An open letter to the Filipino nation

Rise for climate, justice and integrity of creation march 
Official statement: 8th of  September, 2018

QUEZON CITY – We, Filipinos committed to the tenets of climate justice, the preservation of the integrity of creation, and the protection of the inalienable human right to a healthful and balanced ecology and civil and political liberties, call on leaders of the public and private sector to reflect the demands of vulnerable peoples in the coming Global Climate Action Summit, to be held from September 12 to September 14, 2018.

Under the theme “Take Ambition to the Next Level,” the Summit aims to bring leaders and peoples together from around the world to promote healthy energy systems, inclusive growth, sustainable communities, responsible land and ocean stewardship, and transformative climate investments as a response to the commitments and targets outlined in the Paris Agreement of 2015.

This Summit is instrumental in highlighting the urgent demands of vulnerable peoples within the context of a changing climate at an international level. Yet, it also serves as a platform to hold national and local leaders accountable for plans with policies which gravely affect the lives and livelihood of people from various sectors.

Among the world’s most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change, the Philippines is a nation faced by an average of twenty storms for year, and also experiences extreme fluctuations in weather during its dry and wet seasons. Five years ago, Typhoon Yolanda, internationally known as Typhoon Haiyan, has reminded us of the disastrous consequences of a changing climate, and what we stand to lose if actions fail to capture our need for climate adaptation and mitigation. To this day, this realization haunts us, and moves us to ensure that mistakes done leading up to it and in its aftermath are not repeated.

Under this context, many marginalized sectors like indigenous peoples, small farmers and fishers, urban poor populations, women, children, and others stand to lose more as their vulnerabilities are amplified during climate-related disasters and slow onset effects of the climate. These vulnerabilities are exacerbated by continued environmentally-destructive practices which lead to the degradation of natural resources, displacement, increased poverty, and even death.

Large-scale mining, dirty energy projects, deforestation, incineration, unjust reclamation and other hazardous and destructive business practices have continued to prosper in our country in spite of the country’s constitutional obligation to provide for a healthful and balanced ecology, and our international commitment to cut emissions and to pursue responsive mitigation and adaptation measures. Such practices not only destroy the environment, it also puts the health, rights, and livelihood of the people in harm’s way, at times with the consent and approval of local and even the national government.

In addition to this, many of those who stand against such practices and policies are threatened by violence and death. Rampant militarization and armed militias continue to curtail, harass, and even kill environmental defenders within a culture of impunity and disregard for human rights cultivated and encouraged by no less than the Chief Executive, President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

The cry of the poor is the cry of the Earth,” Pope Francis stressed in his encyclical “Laudato Si: Care for Our Common Home.” With this, we enjoin leaders from across the world – and more importantly, our own national government – to heed the voice of the affected, the impoverished, and the downtrodden in coming up with responses and resolutions which will directly address the concerns of the vulnerable.

Specifically, we urge attendees of the Summit:

· To reflect the urgency and the necessity of the aspirational target that is keeping the world below a global average temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to avert even more disastrous effects of the changing climate;

· To commit to decarbonization, and the just transition from an extractive, fossil-fuel dependent economy which directly contributes to the warming of the planet and the exacerbation of climate vulnerabilities;

· To respect the rights of marginalized sectors and build platforms for the rights of indigenous peoples, women, the rural and urban poor, small food producers, and other vulnerable sectors to be recognized and reflected in climate action;

· To work within the framework of a common-but-differentiated responsibilities among governments of industrialized, developed countries and the developing South, anchored upon their different historical contributions to the changing climate;

· To cease investments on large dirty energy projects – from coal, nuclear, to large hydroelectric dams – and other environmentally-destructive projects which lead to displacement, harassment, and increased vulnerabilities among host communities.

Subsequently, we enjoin the National Government:

· To adhere to the terms of the Paris Agreement, specifically in its commitment to reduce carbon emissions, and to pursue responsive adaptation and mitigation efforts for vulnerable Filipinos;

· To enact a moratorium on new coal fired power plants, which not only directly contribute to our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but also bind power consumers to costly electricity prices due to its increasing economic inviability;

· To promote Clean, Affordable, Renewable Energy (CARE) through an overhaul of the EPIRA Law and a renewed, strengthened implementation of the Renewable Energy Law of 2008, in order to address high prices of electricity, combat energy poverty, and move away from a coal-dependent energy sector;

· To implement the long-overdue open-pit mining ban and uphold the suspension of destructive large-scale mining operations in the country;

· To safeguard food sovereignty by supporting local food production, specifically, small farmers and fishers, and move from an import-dependent export-oriented food sector;

· To end military operations which contribute to the displacement and harassment of indigenous peoples and rural communities;

· To investigate the deaths of environmental defenders and human rights activists, and hold the proper institutions and personnel accountable for such atrocities.

We celebrate this Season of Creation committed to our duty to protect our Common Home, and urge all Filipinos and peoples of the world to do the same: to Care for the Earth, and for each other. Today, as we Rise for Climate, Justice, and Integrity of Creation in our march, we express solidarity with the vulnerable peoples of the world and of the Philippines, and communicate our unity in defending and caring for our homes, our environment, and our future.

#RiseForClimate!

#JusticeForEnvironmentDefenders!

#ProtectIntegrityOfCreation!

#CAREforThePeople!

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For inquiries:

Vin Buenaagua, Media Liaison for P4P:

0999 807 4057, vin.buenaagua@gmail.com

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