Manila summit asks: Why do you care about climate change?
MANILA, Philippines – “Why do we care? Because Ondoy happened in 2009, because Pablo happened in 2011, because Sendong happened, and because Yolanda happened, and because it continues to happen,” said a teary-eyed senator Loren Legarda on Friday, October 9.
Her words opened the Manila Summit of Conscience for the Climate held in the Senate – a gathering of government officials, diplomats, artists, environmentalists, and concerned citizens.
With an unsteady voice, the senator continued: “And why does it happen? Because of apathy, because of ‘Business As Usual,’ because of ‘I do not care.’”
The summit, organized by the Senate Committee on Climate Change, chaired by Legarda, was a follow-up to the first Summit of Conscience for the Climate in Paris, France.
The senator, who had represented the Philippines in the event, had committed to hold a similar one in Manila. (WATCH: Climate change, explained by a kid)
Its primary aim was to tackle climate change not just as a matter of politics, economics, or science, but as a matter of conscience and personal concern. Aside from reaching out to policy-makers and scientists, the event involved artists and faith-based groups.
Other speakers shared their personal stake in solving the climate crisis:
I care about climate change because I am a Filipino. Climate change became personal to me when Haiyan hit our country. My late father was from Leyte. One branch of my extended family was nearly wiped out because of the storm surge. An aunt died, several cousins died.
I care about climate change because we have no choice if we want to survive.
I care because we cannot destroy what we do not have the power to create. We cannot create life.
I care about climate change because we are failing as stewards. We have not taken care of our home. Creation is being disrespected.
Businesses, indigenous peoples affected
Internationally-acclaimed film-maker Kidlat Tahimik performed a one-person skit and chanted a hudhud in place of giving a speech.
He emphasized the need to protect indigenous wisdom as a way to adapt to climate change.
For instance, pinuggu, the ancient watershed management system of the Ifugaos, has been recognized by experts as effective in preserving water supply for farmers.
Butch Meily, president of the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF) said businesses have much to lose if concern for climate change does not translate to action.
He said there are studies showing businesses can lose $4.2 trillion if global warming continues to escalate.
“My concern is the business sector and the jobs that go with it. Having a job gives a person dignity and security,” he said.
His group, a coalition of Philippine companies, plans to put up a PDRF Operations Center in Clark, Pampanga to help businesses become disaster- and climate-resilient.
The center will be unveiled in early 2016.
Lead-up to Paris conference
The speakers signed the “Call to Conscience for the Climate,” a document which will be presented to heads of delegations to the much-awaited international climate change conference in Paris in December.
The signed message calls on the leaders to attend the Paris conference “primarily as a conscious human being, not just a representative of a government or agency,” said Legarda.
After the program, Legarda led the opening of a photo exhibit entitled “60 Solutions Against Climate Change.” It features 60 photos of world-renowned French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
The exhibit will be open for viewing until October 23. It is located on the 2nd floor hallway of the Senate building. – Rappler.com