The latest IPCC Working Group 3 report: A breakdown

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their latest report earlier this week, on April 4, 2022. This report from Working Group III (WGIII) covers potential for adaptation and mitigation, and follows two earlier reports on the physical science of climate change, and the impacts of climate change.

Current projections see the planet overshooting the 1.5°C warming limit

The report stressed that the current plans and pledges from nations are not enough to keep us on track to the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures. If business continues as normal, we are likely to reach 2.7°C of warming this century, or possibly higher.

A temperature increase greater than 1.5°C, even temporarily, would lead to incredible biodiversity loss, loss of human life, and other irreversible damages to our planet. With every year that mitigation efforts are delayed, it will become harder and harder to keep the 1.5°C goal alive. Each year of delay means more drastic measures will be required in shorter periods of time.

To keep the 1.5°C dream alive, greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025, and must be reduced by over 40% by 2030. Even then, we are likely to overshoot the 1.5°C limit at least temporarily, although temperatures will stabilize once we reach net-zero carbon emissions. 

In fact, if we still want a reasonable chance at keeping 1.5°C alive, the IPCC categorically stated that no more new fossil fuel infrastructure should be built, and that we should start phasing out existing infrastructure immediately.

Now more than ever, we need immediate and deep emissions cuts across all sectors.

Major changes are required especially in the energy, transportation, and industrial sectors. Transitioning to low-carbon energy sources has also become easier in recent years, with solar, wind energy as well as lithium-ion batteries exhibiting sustained decreases in unit cost. Of course, in the transition to renewables, we must make sure that this doesn’t simply translate into an explosion in destructive extractives businesses in the 

While at this point, carbon removal (removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere) methods are necessary to keep the 1.5°C limit within the realm of possibility, the IPCC makes sure to emphasize that these should only be used to contain “residual” emissions from the different sectors of society. Issues of feasibility and capacity aside, carbon removal should only play a minor role; there is no alternative to major reductions in emissions.

System change now!

For too long the onus has been put on individuals to live sustainably, to reduce their carbon footprint, to bike or walk or compost. In 2020, we saw a 17% decrease in carbon emissions brought about by lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but even this decrease was not enough to bring us down to the same emissions levels as circa 2000. This goes to show that individual actions like reducing transportation are not, and will not, be enough to stop the climate crisis.

The IPCC WGIII report talks about making changes in different sectors of society, in policy and law, and even in personal behavior. But these changes are insufficient to enact true, lasting change. We need an overhaul of our economic system.

To truly achieve a net-zero society, to achieve climate justice and social justice, we need to dismantle global monopoly capitalism. The current economic system has always and will always prioritize profit over the well-being of people and planet.

Banks and businesses continue to fund fossil fuels because it is profitable, and, at best, just add renewable energy investments on top of existing dirty ones to save face. The fossil fuel industry has historically lobbied against green legislation because it damages their bottom line. Under this system, we will never achieve a just, carbon-neutral world.

The IPCC WGIII report proposes ambitious changes, but these changes are not ambitious enough. The report continues to act as if capitalism would and should still govern us in 2020, in 2050, in 2100. This is unacceptable. Global monopoly capitalism and its profit-oriented, over-productive, over-extractive economic model is the reason for the climate crisis. It has no place in a climate-conscious world, in a just society.

Anything short of dismantling our current economic system is a band-aid solution at best, and deceptive at worst. The true solution to the climate crisis is system change, and, as the science has been reminding us year after year, we have no time to lose at this point.

Read the full IPCC WGIII report here
Watch the press conference recording here

Photo credit: Blew David

No to Marcos-Duterte tandem in 2022!

Why should we vote for the Marcos-Duterte tandem? ❤️💚

It is crucial for the next set of elected leaders to lead our country towards a just and sustainable tomorrow, in the face of our ongoing climate crisis. Now more than ever, we need leadership that will act on climate, defend environment defenders, fight for climate justice locally and internationally, and listen to the demands of the people.

So why should we vote for the Marcos-Duterte tandem when they do not offer clear platforms for people and planet? Why should we vote for a tandem that cowers away from debates and media scrutiny? Why should we vote for a tandem when they refuse to be transparent, and boast a track record of tax evasion and corruption allegations, while also pushing for anti-people policies?

To this day, the tandem remains vague on climate and environment issues, the discussion of which are vital for the continued development of our country. They have yet to say anything about our climate protectors and environment defenders who have gone missing, or worse, killed, on many occasions at the hands of the state — all the while they are also supporting institutions such as NTF-ELCAC which have enabled many of these human rights violations. While they have postured as renewable energy advocates on some instances, climate action should not be limited to this dimension alone, and we must understand that the promise of their leadership runs counter to principles of climate and social justice.

We at Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines strongly encourage the youth and the general public to choose wisely and to choose leaders that are for the people and for the planet — leaders that will not turn a blind eye on issues of climate and social justice, and instead prioritize these; leaders that are not afraid to be called out and to be held accountable for mistakes and inaction. We want leaders who will help hold the richest countries,corporations, and individuals accountable for the global climate crisis. Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte are clear opponents of people- and planet-centered action, and climate activists must resolutely oppose the possibility of six years of such a leadership.

This March 25, youth climate activists will join the Global Climate Strike by taking to the streets to clamor for a set of leaders that will contribute positively to the local and global struggle against climate change. Join us as we march for climate, march for social justice, and march for climate leadership!


#NoToMarcosDuterte2022 #MarchForClimateLeadership

The latest IPCC Working Group II climate report: All you need to know

It is too late to overturn the serious damage society has induced to the Earth’s climate, but it is not too late to prevent its major consequences.

In 1998, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), together with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) founded the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with the primary objective to provide scientific data and research findings to governments that can be used to establish climate policies and use key inputs for international climate deliberations. The IPCC’s projects are supported by thousands of professionals all over the world who devote their time as authors to assess the thousands of scientific papers annually to provide such a concise overview of what is known about drivers of climate change, impacts, and potential consequences, as well as how adaptation and mitigation can reduce those risks. 

The Working Group II (WGII) of the IPCC evaluates the system vulnerabilities of socioeconomic and natural systems to climate change, as well as the negative and positive implications of climate change and adaptation options associated with climate change. From a global to regional perspective, the WGII assesses the different effects of climate change. It encompasses their vulnerabilities, as well as their natural and human systems’ capacities and thresholds for mitigating climate change and thus reducing climate-related risks, including options for achieving project objectives with an equitable and coordinated approach.

On June 23 of last year, leaked reports of the IPCC draft caused increasing concerns among climate activists. The 4,000 page report assessed the severity and speed of climate change as more ominous. It stated that within the next few decades, climate change will inevitably reshape the future. Humanity will be enduring “unlivable” heat, cities submerged in water, and ubiquitous malnutrition and hunger. 

Today, February 28, 2022, IPCC WGII released the official version of its own report, focusing on the consequences on nature and human society should temperatures continue to rise.

We are headed toward climate collapse

“[This report is] an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership” – Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations

The 2015 Paris Agreement was established with the goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, so as to avoid the worst case scenarios of climate change. However, according to this report, there is a 40% chance that global temperatures will cross the 1.5°C limit for at least one year by 2026. Additionally, current projections predict that temperatures will continue to rise to 2-3°C above pre-industrial levels, given the current responses from governments across the globe. Every fraction of a degree of warming increases the risks for the planet.

As it stands, the planet has warmed 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels, and this has already had, and will continue to have, devastating impacts on ecosystems and on the humans that rely on those ecosystems. A total of 127 climate impacts have been identified by Working Group II, ranging from the natural world, to health sectors, to agriculture, to economy. Species ranges will continue to shift, extinctions will continue to accelerate, and whole ecosystems will be in danger of collapsing. As it stands, coral reefs are facing serious threats the world over, indigenous populations in the Arctic are facing cultural extinction, and food production has lowered and will continue to decline. In terms of human impacts, currently, more than 4 in 10 people globally (3.3 to 3.6 billion people) live in places highly vulnerable to climate change. Should we reach the 1.5°C mark, tens of millions more people will face chronic hunger by 2050, 130 million more people will face extreme poverty, hundreds of millions of people living in coastal cities will be at risk of flooding and storm surges, and 350 million more people living in urban centers will face water scarcity. These numbers increase if warming reaches 2°C or even 3°C. If warming continues, parts of the globe will become completely uninhabitable for humans.

According to the IPCC WGII report, we are at risk of breaching several tipping points, which would lead to compound and cascading impacts. Warming of 2°C would push the melting of ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica past the point of no return, potentially causing sea level rise of up to 13 meters globally. Some regions such as central Brazil, Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, and central China, and coastlines across the globe could face multiple climate calamities at once, including drought, heatwaves, cyclones, flooding, and wildfires.

The areas currently most impacted by climate change, and at greatest risk of further impacts, are the ones least responsible for the climate crisis. This includes the Philippines. As an archipelagic country, we are at great risk of rising sea levels. As a country that is dependent on fisheries, we are at risk if and when coral reef ecosystems collapse. As an agricultural country, we are at risk of food shortages due to droughts, typhoons, and other natural disasters. Over the past two years, the country has experienced three category 5 typhoons. We can expect the number and intensity of typhoons to increase as the climate continues warming.

In the press conference that accompanied the release of this report, Dr. Debra Roberts, co-chairperson of the IPCC WGII, frames the report as a “reality check” specifically for developing nations. This should not be the case. Developing nations like the Philippines are already aware of the reality of climate change. If anything, this report should be a “reality check” for the Global North, the developed nations, who are most responsible for the climate crisis.

The report also warns that the current levels of adaptation in place are insufficient to respond to future climate risks. While adaptation actions have increased, the progress for adaptation is uneven, and not fast enough. As temperatures increase, the gap between adaptation actions taken and adaptation actions needed increases, and this gap is even larger for low-income populations. Additionally, adaptation efforts require more money than they are currently getting. For one, governments the world over, but especially from the so-called Global North, are not providing the money they promised. For another, even if they did, it would not be enough. Most importantly, adaptations will not be enough should we continue with “business as usual.” Above 1.5°C, some natural solutions will no longer work, and certain populations will no longer be able to adapt. Make no mistake, adaptations are necessary, because the impacts of climate change are here, and they are here to stay. However, they cannot be a substitute to cutting emissions. We cannot depend on individual initiatives or “carbon offsetting” programs. What the planet needs is a radical transformation of the consumption-focused nature of our current society.

System change not climate change!

In light of the new report, as well as the ongoing and felt impacts of climate change in our country, the Philippine government must enact policies and programs that will better equip the country to handle the effects of the climate crisis. Global leaders, especially those of historic emitters such as the United States, the European Union, and China, must take accountability for their roles in causing the climate crisis, and to enact a just and swift transition from fossil fuels to green energy. We, as a global society, must demand a shift away from the capitalist, imperialist economic system that brought us here in the first place.

Individual efforts are not enough. Efforts by individual governments, or individual sectors are not enough. Governments and private sectors all over the globe must all act radically, and must all act now. It is not enough to work under the current framework of capitalism. Even the IPCC WGII Report continues to function under this framework, consistently arguing that adaptation and mitigation will be “good for economies.” There is more at stake here than the economy, especially a profit-oriented one. When it comes to the climate crisis, we cannot afford to be policy neutral. We know the cause. We know the solution.

In his opening remarks at the press conference, Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said, “Now is the time to turn rage into action.” We call on the Filipino youth to take action. It is our future at stake.

Photo credit: Ma Ti via unsplash.com
Other references used
https://news.yahoo.com/crushing-climate-impacts-hit-sooner-010253436.html

Justice for the New Bataan 5!

A day before the 36th anniversary of EDSA People Power Movement, five Lumad rights advocates were killed by government troops during an alleged “rescue operation” of the Indigenous People in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. According to local sources, the military subsequently staged the massacre as an “NPA encounter”.

Among those killed was Chad Booc, a computer science graduate who chose the life of an indigenous rights activist, as a volunteer teacher for a Lumad alternative school in Surigao del Sur. Witnessing firsthand the intense repression in the countryside, he was active in campaigns against the militarization of Lumad ancestral lands and also became one of the signatories in the 24th petition against the Duterte administration’s Anti-Terror Law. In 2021, he was arrested during a police raid in Cebu for allegedly training minors to become “terrorists”, a charge repeatedly used by the government against volunteer teachers like him.

This horrific episode reminds us all of the current administration’s complete disregard for our environmental defenders. It reminds us of how unsafe this country is for environmental defenders like Chad, who are only trying to help the Lumad in their fight for self-determination against the encroachment of destructive companies.

We at YACAP vehemently condemn the actions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines leading to these killings, and join the calls for justice for all those slain in this cold-blooded attack. We openly oppose all attacks and violations the Duterte administration has perpetrated on environment defenders, including baseless red-tagging that has resulted in the loss of life. We reiterate the call to abolish the NTF-ELCAC as the primary institution behind the red-tagging of environment and human rights activists.

#JusticeForChadBooc
#JusticeForNewBataan5
#DefendTheDefenders

The Paradox of Injustice Behind PAREX

By: Sundy Grace Taguinod & Louie Ramirez

The Pasig River Expressway Project is a 19.37-kilometer, all-elevated, six-lane highway that will run the length of the Pasig River. The project will begin on Radial Road 10 in Manila and end with a link to the South East Metro Manila. According to San Miguel Corporation (SMC), the expressway will run along the banks of the Pasig River. The said project will have three major segments: Segment 1 is from Radial Road 10 to Plaza Azul in Manila City  (5.740 km), Segment 2 from Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3(MMSS3)-San Juan River to C-5 (7.325), and Segment 3 from C-5 to C-6 Road in Taguig City.

The multi-billion project intends to build a direct link between Metro Manila’s western and eastern cities, with the goal of easing congestion in locations like R-10, EDSA, and C-5. This could assist to relieve Metro Manila’s notorious traffic problems, particularly during peak hours. Another goal is to increase the efficiency of the country’s road transportation system by constructing infrastructure that is safe, dependable, and environmentally friendly. SMC intends to include a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, a high-quality bus-based transportation system that provides metro-level services in a timely, pleasant, and cost-effective manner so that more Filipinos, especially commuters, will benefit from the project.

While the intention of this development is good, we need to understand that it will never cut travel times and relieve congestion along the roads. It has been proven in mega cities all over the world that building urban expressways leads to increased vehicle use, congestion, pollution, and climate change. Building new expressways encourages people to buy and use vehicles, increasing traffic congestion on our highways. Moreover, according to urban planner Paulo G. Alcazaren, the PAREX would not genuinely relieve congestion in Metro Manila unless efforts are refocused on improving public transportation, based on the idea of induced demand, which asserts that more roads lead to more traffic. The construction of PAREX is another example of urban planning favoring people who can drive their own cars over commuters who use public transportation. The short-term benefits that these drivers would experience pales in comparison to the slew of negative consequences of this project.

CHALLENGE ON HISTORICAL PLACES

PAREX supporters claim that it will have no impact on heritage sites, despite evidence to the contrary from heritage activists. According to one article entitled “The injustice behind PAREX” published by Robert Siy of The Manila Times, “PAREX would obstruct and degrade the views of the river and most heritage structures on its banks.” Architect and urban planner Paulo Alcazaren demonstrated how PAREX’s first phase will influence numerous key cultural landmarks in the metro, including the Aduana Building, the Maestranza Walls, and Fort Santiago, which are all part of the old walled city of Intramuros. Furthermore, the illustration also depicted how the expressway’s development will impact the Arroceros Forest Park, Quezon Bridge, Jones Bridge, Rizal Shrine, and Manila Post Office.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

PAREX is going to be a polluting road system. Increased vehicle volume on the planned highway is likely to result in higher concentrations of air, noise, vibration, and light pollution, posing a risk to human health and the environment.

Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham), a national organization of scientists, researchers, engineers, and science educators and advocates, said PAREX would affect the river’s productivity thus opposing the project, stressing that the road would cause further damage to the river, nearby residents and the overall urban ecosystem in the National Capital Region.

Additionally, if you live near the PAREX, your community will become warmer.  Urban heat island occurs when a city experiences much warmer temperature than the nearby rural areas thus the “urban heat island effect” will be exacerbated by building an expressway above a river, which normally reflects heat and cools through evaporation. However, after the highway is built, this advantageous feature will be replaced with concrete slabs that absorb heat and then release it into the surrounding areas throughout the day, making nearby communities warmer. Then there’s the heat generated by the thousands of cars that will pass through the PAREX on a regular basis.

If you live or work in the “shadow” of the PAREX, your street is likely to experience “sprawl,” which is when an area loses its appeal for a variety of reasons. Aside from the noise and pollution already stated, elevated expressways block sunlight from reaching the street below, making it darker, less safe, and devoid of plants. Having a huge, unattractive concrete building in your neighborhood tarnishes your community’s image and limits your development alternatives. This usually results in a decrease in the value of real estate. The loss of sunlight will also have a negative effect on the river ecosystem. This huge change in the amount of light that the river receives will have a huge effect on everything from plankton, to top-level fish species, to riparian vegetation in the river. What currently survives of the Pasig River’s food chain would be destroyed.

In addition to the negative effects on the river ecosystem, the PAREX would also have negative health effects on the people living nearby. According to Agham, “The Pasig River Expressway is a 19.37-kilometer death sentence that would put an end to all chance of an improved Pasig River environment.” If your neighborhood is close to the PAREX, it is likely to suffer from increased noise and air pollution. The experience could be similar to living next to EDSA or to one of the expressways (e.g., NLEx, SLEx). There will be constant noise from vehicle engines, horns and from the friction of tires against the pavement. The most harmful impact, however, is the air pollution. Apart from the toxic fumes emitted from fossil-fuel vehicles, increased particulate matter in the air (from the engine exhaust and from microplastics released from brake pads and tires during vehicle operation) has been proven to lead to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and to shorten lives according to the by the public health sector, specifically the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 

BOTTOMLINE

“Restoring a river does not mean building an expressway over it.” The massive company behind this project, San Miguel Corporation, shows an alteration of the Pasig River considered as “biologically dead” and a long symbol of urban population in the Philippines. However, the river has witnessed numerous efforts from both the government and private sectors to clean and rehabilitate the waterway, leading to its slow revival, evidently showing that an improvement is possible. Instead of  building an expressway through the Pasig River, we need better alternatives and prospects. Sustainable and effective development should serve people from all backgrounds of society without compromising important sites, natural resources, and the environment in general. The river already has a ferry system, and various boats utilize it to transport products along its length, although both are small and ineffective. It is more beneficial to develop the river as a significant waterway than to construct a roadway across it.

Image Credit: AGDProductions via pixabay.com

The Aftermath of Typhoon Odette Reveals the Social Inequality of the Climate Crisis

By Dalena Rabacal

As the call for climate justice continues to fight against a system that prioritizes profit over people and the planet, many areas are increasingly vulnerable to intensifying destructive typhoons caused by climate change, and of course, widening the social wealth gap. It is the injustices in our history that breed more suffering in our present. With that, our fight should continue to carry the call of the most impacted communities for a movement to achieve an inclusive and livable world.

In December 2021, the landfall of Typhoon Odette (Rai) brought horror to the lives of over 7.8 million people across 11 regions in the Philippines. According to National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, the cost of damage to agriculture and infrastructure rose to Php 28 billion by January 10, 2022. It was shown all over the news how this typhoon devastated properties, homes, and livelihoods. Yet behind these numbers is a much more depressing story: the loss of everything that these communities worked hard to build over decades. 

Since typhoons are exacerbated by the changing climate, life in areas whose partner is nature itself — working on the grassroots — is becoming harder and more expensive. For instance, product prices spiked after the supertyphoon, which further increased the wealth gap between the poor and the rich. The least contributors to the crisis are becoming poorer and more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, while the rich continue to take advantage of the whole community being under a state of calamity to suck out a profit. An example of this is the high price of construction materials such as plywood, nails, steel roofing material due to the high demands and being such a necessity in the areas of Bohol. But since the most affected areas and most of the destroyed houses are the poorest communities, residents could not repair their homes yet, because of these high prices, and must wait for the prices to plummet first. Then there are the monsoon rains that will worsen the situation by damaging the remaining structures,  like the wood framework of the roof. The poorer communities bear the brunt of the damage caused by climate change and are the least able to recover from it. We witness here that the most unequal phase of a disaster is the road to recovery.

Additionally, the sunny weather left residents in the affected areas to experience the scorching heat of the sun since trees were uprooted and/or damaged by the onslaught of the Supertyphoon Odette leaving no shade to get under. In addition, the regions of Dinagat Island and Siargao reported having nine cases of people who have died from dehydration caused by diarrhea. The power outreach and water shortages are expected to last longer. 

Supertyphoon Odette has not only damaged communities. We have also lost many of our pristine natural wonders because of it. An example of this is the estimated 80 percent damage to the forest and tourism facilities of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan. In Central Visayas, the Department of Tourism (DOT) reveals an estimated Php 3.4 billion damage to tourism which could rise if the estimates for Negros, Tagbilaran, and Panglao for Bohol and Siquijor are included. We must expect more catastrophic typhoons if nothing from the system of capitalistic greed and social injustice changes. By then, what will be left? 

What’s left in the aftermath of Odette is the spirit and resiliency of Filipinos in neighbors-helping-neighbors initiatives. Small communities assisting, giving solace and working side by side to recuperate from hunger, loss, trauma, and all the worst that could be. But this is not enough to solve the whole picture of the climate crisis. It must be taken from its roots, which is the system of capitalism. 

The world is running out of time to achieve the net-zero target and well below 2 degrees Celsius warming of the Paris Agreement. At the same time, politicians and corporations continue to bribe their way out of the penalty box, while the lives of the victims of the supertyphoon Odette have been halted and knocked down to zero. Affected communities are not giving up although they have lost everything, but the onus of recovery is not just on them. Our politicians and businessmen must work to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement as well as the demands of the climate activists. They should invest in sustainable living and social justice for the sake of the planet, people, and future generations.

The crisis character of climate change is not just due to the phenomenon itself, but also due to the nature of  Philippine politics. For instance, the climate crisis is less discussed in the national debates despite being the main threat to humanity itself. In the Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews on January 22, 2022, for the upcoming elections, climate action was barely mentioned. It was tackled briefly when it was connected to the effects of the calamities that occur in the country. The lack of attention to this topic proves how it is not a priority to the Philippine government and not attractive for voters to include the politicians’ names on their ballot. It must also be kept in mind that the leaders who decide over the reparations to affected communities do not face the risks of climate change. The government, therefore, focuses more on the aftermath of a typhoon than investing in prevention and preparedness. 

It is time for those in the position of power and wealth to act urgently if we want to preserve what is left and restore what was lost, to transition to targeting more sustainable and calamity-proof cities as we rebuild out from scratch. The people’s billions should be invested in services like restoration and preservation of over-exploited mangroves forests, sea grass, coral reefs, and watershed ecosystems that fight storm surge, flood, capture carbon, and mitigate the planet rather than clearing them to make space for development that does not bank for our future and planet. 

We should also take our actions to an international level as we urge for solutions to the oncoming storms and a major humanitarian crises that will cause more grief to our people and planet. We still have hope and we have all the solutions. It is time to accelerate our actions by keeping our eyes open and aware of the situations happening in our society and putting pressure on the ones accountable for the dire horror that others are experiencing. Continuing to put pressure on the leaders towards climate justice also means listening to the majority in the impacted communities of Visayas and Mindanao.


Odette is ranked as the second-biggest among the world’s natural disasters in the year 2021. It marked a long history of disappointments in the government for not doing their part in the fight against climate change, and their lackluster response to its effects, such as typhoons and droughts. With intensifying climate change, we expect also the more rapid intensification of typhoons. What we need is urgent action from the government, social justice to the poor and vulnerable, equality in the recovery, concrete plans to rebuild the community that can withstand disasters, and of course a systematic change to steer a greener, inclusive, and livable future.

Photo Credit: Carl Kho (https://unsplash.com/photos/-wnYf3UcdQ0)

Our 2021 Year-End Report

Download our year-end report for 2021 below! Read the “National Coordinator’s Note” of the report below.

Despite the continued COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, YACAP has grown and remained strong this 2021. Our nationwide network continues to reach more and more people, and we must continue to take on the challenge of organizing young individuals and youth formations in the country around the global call for climate justice, in the context of our current political climate.

2022 presents a potential turning point in Philippine politics, with the upcoming national elections in May. As the climate crisis worsens, we call for a green new leadership. Alliances like YACAP must maximize its capacity and position to enact meaningful change, both in the electoral setting and, ultimately, in the communities and peoples most impacted by the climate crisis.

With that said, the struggle continues. More power to YACAP and to climate activists in the country and around the world!

For people and planet,

Jon Bonifacio
National Coordinator

COP26: On the outside, always looking in

Chito Arceo was a delegate to the recently-concluded Conference of Parties 26 (COP 26) UN climate summit in Glasgow, who represented YACAP alongside two others. He reflects on his experiences in the piece below. You can also check out the pieces of Jon Bonifacio and Mitzi Jonelle Tan.

As the first-ever person from my city to attend the biggest summit in the world about climate change, the hype was real. My friends and family were very much eager to see what would happen in the most anticipated COP since COP21, and the local government gave me their full support to report back the important things that could be echoed back to my community. Unfortunately, my disappointment was even bigger than I thought imaginable, and this COP turned out to be quite uneventful on my part.

Coming into the Blue Zone (the area where the official negotiations took place) for the first time and seeing the giant globe suspended from the ceiling, I was full of excitement. I had gone through security, I had finished registering to get my badge, and I had gotten my travel pass amongst other things they gave away. But the excitement quickly ended when I realized that I didn’t have the slightest idea on what to do next. The events were happening quickly with only televisions to remind us of our schedule. The venue itself was way too big to just look around and find an event that interested me without tiring myself too quickly. Simply put, I was lost.

This feeling would not only happen on my first day at COP. It also happened on my second day, and my third, up until the very last day. Every time I entered the Blue Zone, I realized I had no idea what to do aside from the pre-planned actions by my fellow activists. It was simply too overwhelming to navigate through the conference. But what’s ironic is that so much is happening and yet, so little was achieved. The whole thing felt like a farce.

It wasn’t long until I realized why this was the case: even if I came from a country that is continuously being ravaged by the climate crisis, I wasn’t the target audience of this conference. I wasn’t white, I did not come from a position of power or wealth, and I wasn’t significant enough to be let inside the negotiations. I did not belong in this theater of performative climate “action”. So much for COP26 being the most inclusive COP ever.

How can a summit organized by the most powerful entities in the world solve a crisis disproportionately affecting billions of people from marginalized communities without giving them the platform to be at the negotiations? Or at the very least, not giving them the platform to speak? Why do those who feel the effects of the climate crisis the least get to decide about how we move forward from now on? What do they know of the crisis when all they care about is how they will profit from this situation? 

Climate finance is a sham and net zero is a scam. World leaders and fossil fuel lobbyists should know that their tainted money is not worth the lives of the people suffering from the crisis. Every single day that they try to move the deadline to end their emissions will be responsible for the death of thousands of people, if not millions. 

Every single day that they try to move the deadline to end their emissions will be responsible for the death of thousands of people, if not millions. 

Holding large-scale polluters accountable and demanding reparations for the loss and damages of the climate crisis are what we should be doing right now. COP26 was clearly not the platform for these actions, and as far as I’m concerned, the future COPs won’t be as well. The system is on their side, and not a day has passed that they do not try to take advantage of this for their financial gain.

All of the events that actually mattered during my two-week stay in Scotland either happened outside COP or inside COP but outside of the negotiations themselves. These actions planned by the civil society organizations highlighted the voices of MAPA (Most Affected People’s and Areas) activists and the voices of those from marginalized communities that did not get the representation they needed inside the conference itself. These are where the power of the people comes from. These platforms shed light on the real issues brought about by the climate crisis, and they are the ones that should be broadcasted around the world.

It would be amiss to exclude from this reflection the admiration I have amongst my fellow activists who came from different parts of the world. Their sheer determination and passion for the advocacies that they are fighting for are beyond remarkable. I had the privilege of getting to know first-hand the experiences of these people from their home countries and why they came to Scotland to raise their voices. There is a tragic irony in knowing that a shared aversion to the lack of climate action is what united us in the first place. However, there is hope in knowing that these activists, who are all incredible in their own right, will push for true climate justice in their own communities no matter what it takes. 

Lastly, COP26 lacked what I think is an important part of solving the climate crisis: love. Whether it be love for the environment or love for the causes the people are there for, it was clear that this summit was born out of obligation and not of altruism. This resulted into a conference that was monumental at face value, but lifeless in form. 

Conversely, the actions outside of COP were full of emotion —anger, disappointment, sadness, hope, and of course, love. Every single activist I’ve met had a love for what they were doing. Not because they loved what was happening, but because they loved what they were fighting for. And they were more than willing to share that emotion with others. Never have I felt so attached to a group of people that I have never met in my life in just a span of two weeks. I am forever grateful for the love that they have shared with me, and I hope that they continue to inspire other people with their fervor.

When I came back to the Philippines, it was not the stories inside the conference that resonated with me. It was the stories of unity that kept us going in these past few weeks despite the lack of action from the world leaders and negotiators in COP26. While not the conference I thought it to be, it has managed to give me outlooks that I never would’ve realized had it not been for the incompetence and the exclusionary vibe of the event itself. You have to be outside looking in to get the entire picture of COP. 

And the picture it depicts manages to capture a few words: we will not solve the climate crisis through COP26, and we won’t be solving it through the future COPs as well.

A world beyond COP 26

Jon Bonifacio was a delegate to the recently-concluded Conference of Parties 26 (COP 26) UN climate summit in Glasgow, who represented YACAP alongside two others. He reflects on his experiences in the piece below. You can also check out the pieces of Chito Arceo and Mitzi Jonelle Tan.

Nearly every day that I entered the COP26 conference grounds in Glasgow, the ambient chatter from delegates in line would be punctured by different sounds coming from the other side of the perimeter fences surrounding the venue. Whether it was some driving percussion from an ensemble of snare and bass drum players, or chants from protestors hailing from different parts of the world, the vibrant music and spirit from the outside was a clear point of contrast to the rather monotonous vibe of the halls and walkways chock-full of mumbling suits inside.

Two weeks’ worth of deliberations led by these mumbling suits has resulted in a document called the Glasgow Climate Pact. This being my first COP, I was genuinely surprised that this was all they could muster — a few pages of the most peculiar and conservative language I have ever seen. In this document, it was “note[d] with deep regret” that the decade-old $100 billion/year pledge for climate finance had not been met; it “stresses” the urgency of action around mitigation and adaptation; the list goes on. Graphs were produced to compare word frequency in the document. Discussions were held about whether the word “urges” or “requests” should be used in this or that paragraph. There were last-minute debates if it should be a “phase-out” or a “phase-down” for “unabated coal power”. This squabbling over words was what drove the COP into overtime, spilling over for an extra full day of deliberations.

The core problem of the COP is captured succinctly in two words that appear in the final text of the Glasgow pact: how it recognizes the importance only “for some” of the concept of climate justice.

It should be clear at this point: the COP is a game that we are being forced to play. It is a game for people who like to play pretend; it is a game for people who have the time. Here and now, millions are suffering and dying from massive floods and record heat waves around the world. Droughts are driving nations into unprecedented food crises. Such spineless, roundabout phrasing on a few sheets of paper can hardly be called the pinnacle of climate action, and has no place in our era of crisis and emergency. The core problem of the COP is captured succinctly in two words that appear in the final text of the Glasgow pact: how it recognizes the importance only “for some” of the concept of climate justice.

If we are going to play this game of theirs, then these documents should at least reflect what actually needs to be done. To suggest a few improvements: call out historic polluters — the US, UK, Canada, and many countries in the EU — for their gross inaction and continued, willful destruction of people and planet; demand immediate, genuine (i.e. grants, not loans), and adequate reparations alongside financial and technical support for the Global South from the Global North; push for a just transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable energy sources, with more immediate time-frames for industrialized countries. The People’s Agreement of Cochabamba, released over a decade ago, is a strong example of what could be achieved with more progressive international summits.

Yet at the end of the day, meaningful climate action is largely situated outside of conferences like the COP. The COP as it exists today will never find a solution for small farmers in the Philippines who are tackling climate change in the context of widespread landlessness and other forms of semi-feudal oppression. It will never specifically address the worsening floods brought about in part by quarrying and deforestation in the Marikina Watershed and elsewhere in the country. All of these are points of intervention when it comes to the climate crisis — these are issues that we can and must work on to help in the fight for global climate justice. The COP, with all its severe limitations, is simply another point of intervention, and one that we must also maximize because the lives of billions are on the line.

We must come into the COP with this in mind; otherwise we are only setting ourselves up for disappointment. We are all aware, now more than ever, that hope and victory lie with the people standing united across the globe, and not with these so-called world leaders. Let the drums and the chants from outside be a constant reminder that there is a whole world beyond these conferences, on the other side of security, and that is the world where we can build something new.

Statement on the COP26 Climate Summit

CALL OUT THE COP OUT! END CLIMATE IMPERIALISM!

With the recent COP26 UN Climate Summit, our so-called world leaders have once again betrayed us and left us all to burn in fires and drown in floods. In the face of climate catastrophe caused mainly by the historic emissions of climate criminals like the US, UK, and others in the Global North, COP26 actively chose profit and the preservation of the status quo versus the planet and lives of people today.

COP26 was a conference of exclusion. Those from the Global South, especially members of civil society and people’s organizations, faced visa and vaccination issues, outrageous accommodation expenses, and so much more just to bring themselves to the summit in Glasgow — all symptoms of the rotting colonialist, imperialist system that we live in. In the actual conference, negotiations were still a world away for the vast majority of participants as entrance into the meetings was severely limited. Who was welcomed though? The fossil fuel industry representatives and billionaires milking super-profits from the destruction of our climate. The very people that have led us to our destruction were accorded space in the summit to lecture us on how to save the world.

The Philippines’ official delegation continued this atmosphere of exclusion, having zero youth or civil society representation in its 19 members. Delegation head and finance secretary Carlos Dominguez III, in a speech, talked of “climate justice” and “climate projects on the ground” but refused to elaborate on what those are; in our era of climate crisis, we cannot settle for vague, empty promises. We also cannot talk of climate justice if we refuse to call out the global imperialist system in which countries like ours have to beg for the reparations that the Global North owes to us.

After two weeks of negotiations, the COP26 produced a document — the Glasgow Climate Pact — and claimed that this agreement keeps the 1.5°C limit set by the Paris Agreement alive. Yet during the whole process, Global North countries have pushed for confusing language when talking about fossil fuels, completely ignored oil and gas, and pointed fingers at the Global South about phasing out of coal when these colonizers also watered down the concepts around climate finance and reparations. The entire world needs to phase out all fossil fuels immediately, but the Global South cannot be fully expected to do this at the rate that we need it without reparations from the Global North — in the form of finance as grants, and technology transfer. The Global North, not only completely ignored their historical responsibility in terms of emissions, but also their historical accountability for the historical and ongoing over-exploitation of the lands and people of the Global South. All this to ensure that the fossil-powered status quo does not change anytime soon.

World leaders have readily admitted that compromise was necessary to achieve agreement — but if compromise means condemning billions of people to untold suffering today and tomorrow in a 2.7°C warmer world, then we cannot settle for compromises. We refuse to compromise on our lives.
COP26 has made it clear that the ruling class in power will fight tooth and nail to maintain business as usual and protect their profit. Even after this summit we must keep pushing so-called leaders towards drastic emission cuts to stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius, annual carbon budgets, reparations from the Global North to the Global South to mitigate, adapt, and minimize loss and damages, and to have the structures in place to facilitate finance and technology transfer from the North to the South. All these are just the tiny steps that we have to take in order to be a step closer to climate justice.

Let this summit be a reminder to us once again that the imperialist system that we have that has led us to the climate crisis cannot bring us out of it. In order to truly achieve climate justice, we must uproot the system and this will only be done through the people coming together, uniting, and fighting for a better world together.

#COP26
#EndClimateImperialism
#UprootTheSystem