Duterte downplays climate change efforts, calls conferences ‘waste of time’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 31) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday downplayed global efforts against climate change, calling conferences on the issue a “waste of time and money.”

During the final day of his Japan visit, Duterte momentarily drifted away from his prepared keynote speech at the 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo to share his thoughts on the phenomenon.

The chief executive recalled a recent conversation he had with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. While he earlier said the country “joins the consensus to fight climate change,” he also questioned the “system” of its global talks.

“I love him, he’s a smart guy. But during his time he was talking, ever complaining about climate change,” Duterte said of Guterres. “After the talk I intervened, you know Mr. President, we are talking about deaths. We talked about destruction, we talk about dislocation. The Philippines has been there.”

“I said to the body, let’s stop kidding each other. We are just wasting the time and the money of the people coming back and forth to these conferences, which (have) not improved a bit since we started to talk about it,” the President shared.

Duterte said climate change may not matter in the long run due to other global issues—including threats of war.

“There are so many countries with so many bombs, atomic hydrogen and all. If any one of them would start to send one into the air, there’s a chance that it will be end of the world. That’s why climate change does not really matter to us at all,” he said.

The President added he has fired several members of his Cabinet for going on numerous out-of-the-country trips just to attend climate change conferences.

He stressed the absence of an “entity” which would enforce laws governing climate.

Duterte in March 2017 signed the Paris deal on climate change, which mandates member countries to curb the effects of the phenomenon. The agreement, signed by over 195 countries, seeks to pursue efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.