Filipino climate activists call on world leaders to act on climate crisis

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Filipino climate activists call on world leaders to act on climate crisis
Residents gather debris from their destroyed houses after typhoon Kammuri hit the city of Sorsogon, south of of Manila on Dec. 3, 2019.
AFP / Razvale Sayat

MANILA, Philippines — Environmental groups in the Philippines called on world leaders attending a key climate conference in Madrid, Spain to act urgently in the face of climate crisis and hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for the harms they cause.

Countries are currently in crucial talks in the 2019 UN Climate Conference—known as COP25—aimed finalizing rules for the 2015 Paris Agreement, which enjoins nations to work to cap global warming to 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.

The Madrid conference is also focused on setting up a fund to help countries already reeling droughts, floods and storms made worse by rising seas.

“We are in a climate emergency. Now more than ever is a time to act. We strongly call on our world leaders to not simply deliver speeches, instead work together to protect our people,” Yeb Saño, Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director, said.

Save Philippines, a youth movement that aims for ecological and climate justice, said Filipinos are among the individuals who suffer the “worst” impacts of climate crisis.

“We who live in the Pacific bear the amplified effects of unstable climate conditions,” it said.

The onslaught of Typhoon Kammuri (locally known as Tisoy) coincided with the opening of COP25. At least 11 people were reportedly killed and hundreds of thousands fled their homes when “Tisoy” thrashed Southern Luzon and Eastern Visayas with destructive winds and heavy rains Tuesday.

“The Philippines is regularly battered with extreme weather events that are getting more severe with climate change. We’re currently facing another strong typhoon, yet we are still dealing with the same problem—the same greed of big polluters that have stolen our future and blocked progress to attain climate justice,” Saño said.

He added: “We must use this platform to expose the climate complicity of the fossil fuel industry and take concrete actions to ensure they are accountable for the harms they cause, particularly in countries that are the most vulnerable.”

READGreenpeace: Companies’ coal expansion will block Philippines’ transition to low carbon future

Duterte urged to declare climate emergency

Save Philippines called on President Rodrigo Duterte to declare climate emergency as it slammed the continuing operations and expansions of coal-fired power plants in the country and projects under the government’s Build, Build, Build program.

Man-made emissions from burning fossil fuels and building infrastructure are among the primary contributors to global warming.

“We expect nothing less but the declaration of a climate emergency. We shall see you amend all policies that exacerbate our already vulnerable situation and allocate all resources for ordinary Filipinos to successfully adapt to the impacts of climate change,” the group said.

The World Meteorological Organization said in its annual assessment that global temperatures so far this year were 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average. This puts 2019 on course to be in the top three warmest years ever recorded.

In its 2019 Emissions Gap Report, the UN Environment Programme stressed that greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 7.6% per year from 2020 to 2040 are needed to meet the goal of a 1.5 degrees increase in temperatures.

The Philippines committed to a conditional target of 70% emissions reduction below business-as-usual-levels.

READIn 30 years, rising seas will threaten Philippine cities, towns home to 6.8 million

PH delegation in COP25

Rep. Loren Legarda (Antique), who will head the country’s delegation to COP 25, said she is hopeful that developed nations will do their fair share to combat the climate crisis.

“We come to this year’s UN climate talks to unite our voices with our fellow developing countries in the urgent call for climate justice. We maintain the resolve to urge developed nations to provide us sufficient climate finance, technologies and means for capacity building to aid us as we face the intensifying impacts of climate change,” Legarda said.

She added: “Expect the Philippines together with other developing countries to champion climate justice—to demand what is right and fair for us highly vulnerable countries. — with reports from Agence France-Presse

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