BAGUIO

Declare a state of climate emergency now

Green Voices

WE EXPRESS our solidarity with the urgent plea made by climate-action and -justice advocates urging the government to declare, amid a raging health pandemic, a climate emergency in response to the massive

destruction in the Philippines brought about by the climate crisis. The litany of typhoons brought by the climate crisis destroyed lives and communities that Covid19 "spared" thus far.

It can neither be denied nor ignored that we are in a climate crisis. Now more than ever, our vulnerable people -- who bear the brunt of a warming planet -- are experiencing first-hand the cruel consequences of climate change as manifested in our series of battles against more frequent and more destructive weather disturbances, which are claiming lives and causing massive damages to homes and communities, food, agriculture and fisheries sectors and the ecosystems that provide vital goods and services for sustaining the people's well-being.

As our nation continues to suffer from the atrocious impacts of climate change, we believe that those responsible for this deepening crisis, especially the corporate polluters and forest and biodiversity destroyers and their financiers, must be held to account for their environmental crimes. Public officials who continue to ignore the real causes and effects of climate change and the need for decisive and urgent actions must likewise be held liable for their inability to protect public health and the environment.

To put climate action and justice at the heart of the government's policy and program, we urge President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to declare a State of Climate Emergency NOW. Such a declaration will compel the government and society to acknowledge that we live in and are seriously threatened by the climate crisis. Our government must lead urgent actions and devise strategies and measures not just to address, prepare, and adapt in such a crisis but also thrive in a consistent, holistic, sustainable, and whole-of-society manner to reduce if not avoid its impacts on people, species, and the ecosystems.

We strongly believe that the declaration of a State of Climate Emergency will pave the way for the urgent implementation of climate action strategies and plans to address the vulnerabilities of most impacted sectors and communities, including the suspension of environmentally destructive and climate change driving activities, the allocation of funds for climate mitigation and adaptation to protect, repair and rehabilitate destroyed ecosystems, and to increase society's adaptive capacity and resilience, and reduce the crisis' economic, environmental, health and social costs. Our government must also use and prioritize in our Covid-19 recovery efforts policies and programs to address this longer-term climate emergency and not simply put in place stop-gap and short term measures.

This declaration will also drive the country towards more ambitious mitigation measures that faithfully adhere to our Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, it will speed up our efforts to transition towards healthy, sustainable energy and away from fossil fuels, including false solutions such as waste-to-energy incineration that are designed to perpetuate the extraction from, exploitation, and destruction of our environment and natural resources.

To this end, we further urge the government to embrace Zero Waste and Clean Production as key strategies for protecting the climate and our people and for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These strategies are proven to conserve energy and raw materials, stimulate product design for environmental sustainability and local economic development, mainstream the precautionary principle, promote substitution of hazardous chemicals, reduce waste and pollution from extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and disposal, create jobs and livelihoods, support local self-reliance and a local circular economy.

Finally, we urge the government to ban single-use plastic, reduce plastic production, use, and packaging waste, issue the list of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging, stop waste importation, and halt deceptive schemes undermining Zero Waste, including the co-processing of waste in cement kilns and waste-to-energy incineration.

Declare a climate emergency now, and pursue the path toward a zero waste and toxics- and fossil-fuel-free society! Eileen Sison

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Eileen B. Sison is current President of the EcoWaste Coalition and former NGO representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.


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