Standing up for climate justice: No other time but now
MANILA, Philippines – The 21st Conference of Parties (COP) begins in a few days and people all over the world will be participating in the global days of action leading to the most important climate negotiations to ever happen.
The COP21 in Paris will be a crucial turning point in history as world leaders decide to solve the climate crisis. For vulnerable countries like the Philippines, it can decide the survival of millions already affected by the effects of climate change.
“This is a very critical time for the fight for climate justice. Governments of more than 195 countries will be meeting in Paris to finalize and adopt a new international climate agreement that will make a significant difference to humanity's chance for preventing climate change from reaching catastrophic levels,” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development.
The climate negotiations failed in its first attempt to have a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen in 2009. Since then, the world has seen climate change impacts in increasingly large scales and at a quick pace.
Big typhoons have battered the Philippines, Vanuatu, and Mexico. Intense heat have killed thousands in India and Pakistan. Rising sea levels are sinking small island nations like Masrhall Islands and Tuvalu.
COP21: Road to failure or success?
As the world looks at COP21 for a strong climate agreement, many are hopeful but skeptical whether this will be achieved.
Nacpil believes that based on outcomes of previous years of negotiations, “we do not expect Paris to result in a strong agreement the world urgently needs” and that “all signs point to an outcome that will fall very short.”
But Nacpil stresses that pressure from people can help make a better Paris deal. “If citizens, in the Philippines and all over the world, do not apply strong pressure and make our demands clearly and loudly heard, the outcome of Paris can be much worse," she said.
"And while we may not be able to get all that the world needs, we should aim to secure some elements in the agreement that can be used for the fight in the next phases, such as a review mechanism that will create conditions that can compel governments to raise their ambition and targets,” she added.
Church, Filipino youth to join the march
Different sectors like the church and youth groups will also join the climate march. Church groups have become active in climate action after Pope Francis published his encyclical, Laudato Si. In the Philippines, the church has been active in protecting the environment as well as leading in protests against coal power plants.
“The environmental crisis is also a spiritual crisis. Man is made in relationship and our relationship with the environment is one of those. The Church joins this march because we are all stewards of the environment,” said Fr. Dexter Toledo, OFM, chair of the Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement.
“Our march for climate justice is important because it is a march for our future specifically for the future of our children - the next generation. For Catholics, we remember that Pope Francis has always insisted the need to foster new dialogues to promote the welfare of the environment. This march is a concrete expression of that conviction,” Fr. Dexter adds.
Arvin Buenaagua of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice who has been at the forefront of youth mobilizations for climate action also encourages young people to join the march.
“As the majority of the world becomes increasingly divided on a lot of issues, the march is an opportunity for the youth to show our ability to set our differences aside and work towards making a better world for all, actions that do not only inspire the present but hope for the future,” Buenaagua said.
“In the past, the Filipino youth has always been at the frontlines of fighting social change, from the Katipuneros to the Desaperacidos. This is our time to take the lead again. Here, we can take our power back as a progressive force in society,” Buenaagra adds.
The March for Climate Justice Pilipinas, a part of the global day of actions before the COP21 starts, tells world leaders that the time to act is now.
“This is part of a global effort of citizens in more than 150 countries to apply pressure and deliver strong messages to governments at this very critical time when the present and future of our families, our communties, our country are at stake," Nacpil said.
Nacpil encouraged others to participate, saying, "Now is the time to take action. Now is the time to stand up, march, and be counted.” – Rappler.com
The March for Climate Justice Pilipinas will happen on November 28 at 6 different points and will converge at the Quezon City Memorial Circle. Those who want to join may check the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/climate.justice.march/) for more details.