Greenpeace asks Duterte to declare addressing climate change a priority

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Greenpeace asks Duterte to declare addressing climate change a priority
Children gather by the seawall as strong waves brought by Typhoon Kammuri surge high along the coastline in Legazpi City in the province of Albay, Philippines on Tuesday. December 3, 2019.
Greenpeace Philippines / Basilio Sepe

MANILA, Philippines — A group of environmental campaigners called on President Rodrigo Duterte to declare climate emergency in the Philippines—a country vulnerable to the catastrophic effects of severe weather made worse by climate change.

In an open letter, Greenpeace Philippines asked the president to make a climate emergency declaration, which would make climate change and its impacts on Filipinos a top government priority.

The call came as the country recovers from the onslaught of Typhoon Tisoy (Kammuri), which lashed southern Luzon and the Eastern Visayas Tuesday.

The Philippines—an archipelagic nation—is hit by an average of 20 tropical cyclones each year, killing hundreds and putting people in disaster-prone areas in a state of poverty.

“Year after year, Filipinos are identified among the most impacted globally by this crisis, an emergency situation by big polluters, fossil fuel companies who have lied and covered up about how their operations have been driving the climate crisis and who have been raking in trillions in profits at the expense of millions of people who suffer from its impact,” Lea Guerrero, Greenpeace Philippines country director, said,

“Filipino communities have been leading the way in exposing the big fossil fuel corporations most responsible for the emissions heating up the planet. But now it’s time for our government to formally acknowledge this urgent crisis and declare a climate emergency,” Guerrero added.

Greenpeace said the climate emergency declaration should be in the form of an executive order, which should include “critical political decisions and concrete actions” for the government.

Prioritize renewable energy, move away from fossil fuels

The declaration should put climate urgency at the center of all policy decision-making, hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for driving climate change and inflicting harm on Filipinos and demand industrialized nations to make ambitious emissions reduction target, the group said.

It added that the climate emergency declaration should ensure the country’s rapid and just transition to a low carbon future by prioritizing renewable energy sources as well as phase out and stop plans for future fossil fuel investments.

Fossil fuels, when burned, release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, making them major contributors to global warming.

A Greenpeace report released last month found that coal remains the dominant energy source in the Philippines despite the country’s commitment to move away from fossil fuels and shift to clean renewable energy.

The group’s call also came as world leaders attend the 2019 UN Climate Conference—known as COP25—which is aimed at finalizing rules for the 2015 Paris Agreement and setting up a fund to help countries already reeling from droughts, floods and storms.

The Paris accord calls for blocking global warming at well below 2 degrees Celsius and 1.5 degrees Celsius, if possible.

The United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in its 2018 report that global carbon dioxide emission must drop 45% by 2030 and reach “net zero” by 2050 to cap temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius. — with reports from Agence France-Presse

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