As we recognize the economic and social significance of workers this Labor Day, the Youth Advocates of Climate Action Philippines (YACAP) stands in solidarity with the workers as we call for a just transition that secures the sources of livelihood and ensures the integration of workers’ rights in a new economic system that is in line with promoting a sustainable environment.
The trend in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is increasing over the years. In the 2000 GHG inventory from the Philippine Climate Change Assessment Report 2018, the energy sector dominated the emissions with 69,667 gigagrams (1 Gg is exactly 1,000,000 kg) of CO2e contributing 55% to the total emissions, with the transport sub sector accompanied by 25,936 Gg CO2e and 37,002.69 Gg CO2e from the agriculture sector, which showed 39% increase in the energy sector since 1994 . In 2014, the Philippines used coal, natural gas and oil-based plants to power the energy sector with 42.8%, 24.4% and 7.4% of use respectively, with the allocation to renewable sources with only 0.5% . While the Philippines is an insignificant contributor to the global GHG pollution, contributing only 0.3%, our country’s emissions may still rise in the future, further impacting nature and the people.
Underdeveloped countries like the Philippines are continuously being exposed to and negatively impacted by hazardous pollution and problematic industrial practices of foreign multinational companies. These increase the corporate and political powers of wealthier countries while displacing indigenous communities, violating human rights, endangering food security, increasing health risks, as well as poisoning the environment. International oil, coal and gas companies including Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Repsol, Sasol, and Total should be held responsible for climate-change related human rights violations that arise from environmental losses, as well as civil and criminal laws like obstruction, willful obfuscation and climate denial, yet these carbon polluters still escape sanctions [3,4].
However, despite the natural degradation caused by fossil fuel industries for generations, a shift to a more environmental renewable energy system may cost numerous impacts to the fossil fuel industry workers, such as the anxiety of employment loss. As climate advocates, it is our fundamental commitment to aspire for sustainable development not only for the benefit of our environment, but also of our people. Crafting a just transition model that fits with the present resources will provide a realistic, productive, ecologically sustainable and resilient means for affected economies. This will secure workers’ livelihoods and rights, along with the systemic restructuring and technological adjustment of energy sources.
With this, YACAP calls on local leaders to place a moratorium on projects such as coal-fired power plants to begin the process of just transition. In the long term, our leaders must facilitate the transformation of our unsustainable, profit-oriented, carbon-based economy into a more sustainable one that promotes the well-being of both our planet and its people. The transformation itself must also have the people and the planet in mind; we cannot simply move to sustainable energy without considering its impacts on our workers. As workers are the foundation of the future national industries of the Philippines, they, along with the youth, are at the forefront of the battle for our future; we must continue struggling together for climate and social justice.
* Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE). (2020, March) Matrix on the scientific and human rights basis of a climate emergency declaration
 Buendia, L. V., Lasco, R. D., Biona, J. B. B., Badrina, R. B., Baviera, M. S., De Jesus, A. C., Dela Torre, D. M. G., Demafelis, R. B., Pulhin, F. B., Recabar, S. G., Ruzol, C. D., Tamayo, E. G. T., Tapia, M. A., Tongko-Magadia, B., Sabino, L. L., Sabino, N. G. (2018). 2018 Philippine Climate Change Assessment: Mitigation of Climate Change. The Oscar M. Lopez Center for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management Foundation, Inc. and Climate Change Commission. Retrieved from: https://www.omlopezcenter.org/the-philippine-climate-chang…/
 2014 Philippine Power Statistics (PDF). Department of Energy. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 8, 2015.
 The Climate Change and Human Rights Petition. Greenpeace Philippines. 09 December 2019. https://www.greenpeace.org/…/the-climate-change-and-human-…/
 Goering, L. (2015, December 15). CHR takes up complaint of human rights violations by oil firms. Retrieved from https://www.gmanetwork.com/…/chr-takes-up-complaint-…/story/