Rodrigo Duterte, the president of The Philippines, has backtracked on the issue of supporting Paris Climate Deal saying he "will not honor" the pact that was signed by his predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III, and imposes restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.
Duterte, who was elected as the President of the Philippines last month, believes this deal seeks to dictate to developing countries and limit their industrial growth.
"You are trying to stifle us," Duterte said earlier this week. "That's stupid, I will not honour that…. you who have reached your peak and spewed a lot of emissions…You signed … That was not my signature."
Duterte said he felt like kicking an ambassador to the Philippines at a recent meeting when the ambassador asked him about the Philippines' plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
"I'm mad at this ambassador. I want to kick him," Duterte said adding that emission limits for the Philippines were "nonsense".
The Paris Climate deal was agreed by 195 countries last December, and aims to transform the world's fossil-fuel-driven economy and slow the pace of global warming to below 2 degree Celsius. The pact also intends to keep temperatures at 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The new agreement was originally scheduled to take effect in 2020, but United Nations now wants fast-track ratification of the deal. The pact has so far been formally signed by 175 countries and ratified by 19 countries. It will come into force with formal joining of 55 countries covering at least 55% of the world's total emissions. According to Christiana Figueres, who stepped down this month as the UN's lead climate official, the agreement could come into effect by 2018.
Duterte's latest statements have drawn concerns from climate experts in a country that is one of the world's most vulnerable regions to climate change impacts and contributes less than 1% of the world's total emissions. The Philippines is currently leading the Climate Vulnerable Forum - a group of 50 countries that suffer most from the climate change impacts. The group has been advocated for the needs of vulnerable communities to be met in the Paris climate deal.
Rosa Perez, a climate scientist and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an independent body of climate scientists, has appealed to Duterte to reconsider his position, and discuss the negotiation process with climate experts and government officials in the country.
"His statement was an indication that he is not well-informed of the importance of the climate change negotiations and the country's position in the whole process. I hope everything will turn out well for the country's good," Perez said.
It is not the first time that Duterte has criticized the UN Climate Pact. He had earlier accused the UN of being "hypocrites" for enforcing a pact that requires all countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
Most experts however believe the UN agreement will encourage countries to develop better climate resilience strategies. In absence of such a deal and with continuous climate change, storms will likely become more severe, raising the prospect of catastrophes like typhoon Haiyan, which killed over 6,000 people in 2013.