AS I earlier stressed, the climate crisis, that is, the worsening impact of climate change caused by the unabated destruction of our natural resources and ecosystems, is an issue that has raised global concern and one that is also connected with the crusade of greed and power by the northern countries or the big industrial capitalist powers and their semi-colonial states.
In the Philippines, despite the initiatives and billions of funds channeled to climate change mitigation and disaster risk reduction, we are not anywhere close to our goal of contributing to the global target of reducing carbon emissions.
In COP26, the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC in 2021, participating country-parties committed to reducing global carbon emissions to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Outcomes of government initiatives, including a number of non-government environmentalist organizations and civil society organizations, remain very weak in terms of confused narratives and much-needed actions and cooperations that are supposed to lessen the rate of national carbon emissions and mitigate the damages and cost of lives due to disasters after disasters.
But I blame most of the government for its gross failure as the main influencer given its enormous authority and powers.
The fatal weakness of its climate change mitigation systems and responses. Its compromises and concessions to big corporate interests, like mining companies, big developers, big transport moguls, continuing their extractive and destructive plunder of our resources, and use of pollutant technologies.
Its continuing tolerance and support of fossils, coal fuel industry, and allowing the same corporate interests to monopolize renewable energy projects to rake in more profit.
Its failure to enforce environmental standards compliance and exact penalties to a number of erring and abusive big corporate businesses, some of whom are either dummies or business partners of crooked politicians and legislators.
All this points to the problem of the government’s climate change narratives that tend to oversimplify the problem to some natural phenomena and citizens' negligence, while excusing multinational and local big corporate interests from their main accountabilities in the destruction of our natural resources, ecosystems and the dispossession and displacement of our marginalized sectors and communities.
The root problem is deliberately ignored by the state, the multinational corporations (MNCs) and the local corporate sector -- climate change is the outcome of the insatiable greed of big industrial countries led by G7 and the MNCs pursuing and imposing on smaller and backward countries their neoliberal policies of liberalization, deregulation, privatization and denationalization of economies for their ravenous and unrestricted plunder of natural resources and insatiable desire for super profits.
The case of the Philippine environment is clear -- destroyed ecosystems and lost resources due to massive deforestation, disappearing river and water basins, mining operations, massive extraction of marine resources, land use conversions and reclassification to leisure centers and high-end subdivisions and housing settlements, rampant use of agro-chemical farming systems, unhealthy and destructive disposal of wastewater, garbage and other pollutants.
Results are nothing but worsening food security, scarcity of water for consumption and farm use, landlessness and widespread inequality.
Thus our country is not only vulnerable to global climate change impact like extreme weather patterns, but also vulnerable to internal hazards and disasters like coastal surges, floods, fires, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and no less than the usually sub-standardized government projects like roads, bridges, buildings, and aging power and water utilities.
We need systemic solutions -- not cosmetic solutions, not only increased climate funds, not just changing lifestyles and consumption patterns.
To fight the climate crisis is to strengthen our state and its fundamental paradigm, policies and programs.
To ease the impact of the climate crisis is to free our ruling system of flawed narratives, controlled by political dynasties, historical distortion and revisionism, organized greed and corruption, and elitism or exclusiveness of its programs and projects.
On the other hand, to advance climate justice is to democratize resources and wealth, ensure food security-sovereignty, institute true mechanisms of good governance, and empower the basic sectors and other key stakeholders in governance.
It must scrap neoliberal policies, and pursue the development of an economy that is healthy, fair, environmentally resilient and sustainable, and pandemic-adaptive.
The government must also legislate climate justice agreements and policies, demand and enforce commitments from all stakeholders, especially from multinational corporations and local big corporate interests.
The government must strengthen as well the participation of civil society organizations (CSOs) and social movements in putting up a climate justice fund to address loss and damages of climate change, and the need for sustained recovery work. For this, multinational corporations and local big corporate interests in the country must be made to pay for their climate debt and deliver their fair share of climate justice actions.
Most importantly, the only way to hold the government and the corporate interests accountable for climate justice is to build real people’s power both within the legislative and negotiation halls and on the streets and communities.
They must take an aggressive, significant and concerted role in enforcing and advancing climate justice policies, programs and projects, and develop models of resilient and sustainable communities, both in rural and urban areas.
For this, the CSOs and social movements must likewise take responsibility in educating and organizing various public interest groups on how the ruling system works, the right and false narratives on climate change, and in mobilizing actions to win more national, international and local gains in climate justice advocacy campaigns.
Not the least, they should also take active part in the development of the international solidarity movement of all climate justice advocates and frontliners because climate justice is a global concern that can only be resolved through globally solidarity coordinated actions.
I wish and pray that in the COP27 set this month in Shal El-Sheikh, Egypt, the solidarity voices of CSOs and social movements fighting for climate justice will take prominent and significant space, and further solidify the agenda and demand more fair actions from the powers that be -- for the planet and humanity.
November 06, 2022
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