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“Climate Protection for All: Protection of the Global Climate for Present and Future Generations of Humankind in the context of the Economic, Social and Environmental Dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”

Friday, 29 March 2019
H.E. TEODORO LOCSIN, JR. Secretary of Foreign Affairs
High-Level Meeting on Climate and Sustainable Development for All 28 March 2019, General Assembly Hall, United Nations Headquarters, New York


Madame President,

15-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg said “we already have all the facts and solutions, all we have to do is wake up and change. Everything needs to change.”

She’s right but only up to a point. Because the rational, who compose most people on earth, have long been awake to climate change; and they are doing as much as they can about it. They have changed their habitual interaction with their environments; cleaned up their acts and taken up a smaller personal space while taking on responsibility for a wider area.

They know climate change is happening and its effects are as bad as anticipated. And it is coming faster than estimated. We all see it; but, far more than some, most suffer it. There are none so blind as those who will not see; because then they’d make less money—and might have to spend to clean up the part of the earth they ruined.

The least able to withstand climate change are the most powerless to slow, let alone stop it—except in small ways. Some countries can better cope with climate change—and they are the ones most responsible for it; this explains their capacity to dampen its worst effects on themselves. Those most to blame for climate change have the wherewithal but not the desire to do it in big ways. Preaching to the choir has gone on too long; everybody knows—even climate change deniers. They’re just lying.

            If climate action does not measure up to what is needed, we all face the same fate: diminished existence or extinction altogether. But the most to blame will suffer less and only much later—than those the least to blame.

Not a rich country but getting there, the Philippines has carried out effective programs for more accurate and integrated disaster anticipation, prevention, and mitigation. To some extent it is a model for those endeavors. But if we have done well, others better off could do much more for others less able to soften and absorb the blows of climate change. But they think it is enough to hector the less able to listen to them pontificate. And the talk’s not cheap, as holding colloquia in expensive places shows.

            If the most capable and able will not do more to slow and halt climate change, most will eventually stop talking about it and let it run its full and fatal course: in the desertification or inundation of our planet; the starvation and extinction of populations; and the end of everything worthwhile attained by human ingenuity.

            We shall descend into the last violent throes of mankind; when the strong can stay safe but not for long. Those who cannot help themselves much against climate change—having had nothing all this time—will have even less to lose if they give up. They will be less inclined to preserve and protect a world where they have had nothing while there was plenty enough to share. And they know they will still have nothing when that plenty is kept for the same few who have always had it.​

            Then indeed will that dark wisdom show its face that misery craves company. Because it is a kind of justice when those who had—but did not share with those who did not—suffer the same fate for which the former bear the greater blame. A counsel of despair but satisfying in a way. A rough justice, absent a finer one, is better than no justice at all. Thank you.