Environmental group to Congress: Declare climate emergency
Ding Cervantes (The Philippine Star) - January 9, 2020 - 12:00am

CLARK FREEPORT, Philippines — An environmental group urged Congress on Tuesday to declare a “climate emergency” and convene frontline communities, local governments, and civil society to thresh out a climate resilience package of programs.?

Leon Dulce, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (KPNE), said “the unprecedented Australian bushfires are the strongest warning yet that the impacts of climate change we thought we will be facing 20 or 50 years later is already a catastrophic reality today.”

He said the Philippines, being an archipelagic country, is “very much exposed to these climate impacts.”

KPNE is a national environmental network founded in 1997 for campaign coordination on people’s environmental issues.

The group also urged the Philippine government to impose “a moratorium on coal-fired power plants and a just transition toward clean and renewable energy to wean our country’s development pathway from climate change-inducing greenhouse gas emissions.” 

“A climate emergency declaration must also create mechanisms to hold accountable the world’s current and historic top polluters. The landmark report of the Commission on Human Rights’ inquiry into the human rights accountability of the world’s top carbon major companies can be a starting point in demanding climate justice from these climate criminals,” the group said. 

KPNE stressed that “the climate emergency can no longer be put into the political back burner by world leaders, including President Duterte. Our world, as we have seen in Australia, will literally burn down if we don’t act now.”?

The group noted that “over six million hectares of bushland, forests and parks have been razed. Half a billion mammals, birds, and reptiles have perished. Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate. As Australia enters its drier months, wildfires are expected to intensify further.”

“We are in solidarity with the people of Australia as they continue to confront these climate change-driven conflagrations. We stand especially with the Filipino migrant communities that are affected by the fires and haze,” Dulce said.?

He said that “while Australia’s bushfires are a regular seasonal phenomenon, the Garnaut Climate Change Review in 2008 already predicted that the shift in fire weather patterns and intensity would be directly observable this year. Public authorities had more than a decade’s worth of head start to address these risks but willfully ignored the warnings.”?

“The Philippines must quickly learn lessons from the Australian fires, and the Amazon fires, Greenland ice melts, and our very own Super Typhoon Haiyan before that. As a consistent ranker in the world’s most climate vulnerable countries, we are very much prone to both slow-onset and sudden climate shocks,” Dulce also said. 

He also noted that “the latest IPCC report projecting scenarios within the targeted 1.5 ºC global warming ‘safe’ limit shows that very high risks of coral reef degradation and polar icecap melting, and high risks of coastal flooding and fisheries depletion can be expected in the next 11 years.”


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