'No Planet B': Filipino climate protectors want leaders to act immediately on climate crisis

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - September 25, 2020 - 5:29pm

MANILA, Philippines — “Walk the talk.”

Filipino climate advocates and environmental defenders sick of lip service from the nation’s leaders stressed this Friday as they demanded urgent and actual actions from the government to address the worsening impacts of climate crisis.

Local activists joined the youth-led “climate strikes” across the world, calling on the government to declare climate emergency and impose moratoria on destructive coal-fired power plants and reclamation projects.

They also demanded accountability from large-scale polluters, stronger climate education and adoption of long-term policies such as use of low-carbon technologies and transition to clean energies.

“Typhoons, droughts, rising sea levels, we experience these every day. We are the second most vulnerable country in the world to the climate crisis, yet our contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions are so little,” Mitzi Jonelle Tan, international spokesperson of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines, said.

‘Protect climate protectors’

Also among their demands is the protection of environmental defenders.

“We are striking today not only to demand concrete climate action in the Philippines but also to defend our very right to protect our climate as well as to defend our right to call for climate justice, to defend our right to live,” Tan said.

Environmental groups feared that the contentious Anti-Terrorism Act could aggravate the attacks experienced by Filipinos fighting the climate crisis and protecting the country’s forests and seas.

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment documented at least 167 killings of Filipino environmental defenders under the Duterte administration.

“Filipino environmental defenders combating the climate crisis already face human rights atrocities that will be worsened by Duterte’s terror law. This is why we are striking for our fundamental right to enjoy—and protect—a balanced ecology and safe climate,” Leon Dulce, Kalikasan PNE national coordinator, said.

Duterte’s ‘lip service’

Filipino “climate strikers” also called out Duterte for his “hypocritical” speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

In his maiden speech, Duterte urged world leaders to honor their climate commitments and fight the climate crisis with the same urgency as COVID-19.

But this declaration did not sit well with environmental advocates who said the policies of his government tell a different story.

“Shame on you, President Duterte, for not walking your UN climate commitments talk in your own backyard. We are on a climate strike amid the pandemic because of Duterte's relentless pursuit of climate disruptive projects like coal power expansion, land reclamation, and aggressive big mining,” Tan said.

No ‘Planet B’

For the Filipino climate activists, there is no “Planet B.”

Greenhouse gas concentrations reaching record levels worsen extreme events such as hurricanes, droughts, floods and unprecedented wildfires.

The historic Paris Climate Agreement calls for limiting of global warming at well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels while pursuing efforts for a tougher ceiling of 1.5°C.

The Philippines, in its submission under the Paris accord, had committed to cut by 70% its carbon emissions by 2030. Studies, however, found that emission reduction targets submitted by countries put the world on track for warming of 2.7 to 3.7°C, far above the Paris climate goals.

“Global leaders have been praising the youth and saying that we will change the future. But the youth in the most affected areas are being silenced and harassed. We are just asking for a chance to live,” Tan said.

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