The rainy season has officially started in the Philippines. It is the time when climate change introduces itself yet again to many Filipinos, and most news outlets bother to mention it. With memories of Rolly and Ulysses still fresh in our minds, our nation braces itself once again for more extreme climatic hazards while recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the global level, however, countries are preparing for the 2021 UN climate conference in Glasgow, United Kingdom. With carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rising despite a global health crisis and impacts worsening around the world, this year’s summit figures to be the most important since the Paris Agreement was adopted in the 2015 meeting.
One of the terms becoming widely accepted in policy dialogues is “net-zero.” This is the state when the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs, such as carbon dioxide) that are released from a source is the same as the amount removed from the atmosphere.
To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which if exceeded likely leads to irreversible loss and damage, the world must achieve net-zero by 2050. How to achieve this is poised to be a priority in the Glasgow climate summit.
It is no secret that only 100 corporations, many of whom have significant presences in the Philippines, are responsible for 71 percent of GHG emissions. To prevent more Rolly’s and Ulysses’s from harming communities, to avoid higher sea level rise and even higher temperatures in our future, these so-called “big polluters” must actively reduce their emissions.
On the surface, it seems like corporations are on board with stopping the climate crisis. Over 1,500 corporations have recently pledged net-zero commitments, including Shell, Apple, Amazon and Nestle. But if examined closely, the big polluters may not be as serious in addressing the climate crisis as they say they are.