No Climate Justice Under Marcos-Duterte!

As the son of the dictator gets inaugurated today, we must brace ourselves for what will come. These past few days, we have seen how activists, environmental organizations, and media networks are being silenced and censored. These clearly indicate that our freedom to express our concerns regarding the ongoing climate crisis will be seen as a threat to the agenda of those in power, who would much rather place their profit and personal interest first over the well-being of people and planet.

The Philippines, being one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change, needs a leader who shows up and gets the work done. These past few years, our fellow Filipinos have suffered a lot due to the super-typhoons that have devastated our communities; many have lost their homes, livelihoods, and even family members. Other impacts of climate change such as droughts and aberrant weather patterns have also negatively impacted Filipinos. The responses of the Duterte administration to these disasters, such as displacing people from their ancestral lands and pouring concrete over living nature, have never been pro-climate and pro-people. Someone as out of touch as Bongbong Marcos, who has said he plans to continue what Duterte has started, will only do the same or even worse.

Throughout their electoral campaign, the Marcos-Duterte tandem showed no concrete concern for addressing the climate crisis. Instead, what they focused on was undermining the integrity of the elections, winning people over through disinformation, and projecting illusions of progress on a supposed “golden age” of the past. From this, we can definitely see where their priority lies: in their abuse of their political power for their personal gain.

We youth climate advocates categorically reject Marcos Jr. and Duterte. Instead of developing our country and living up to their slogan “Bagong Pilipinas, Bagong Mukha,” it seems that we are returning to a horrible past, possibly even worse than before. But we will not back down. We will continue to rally with our fellow activists and environmental defenders as we continue the struggle for genuine climate justice!


Stand with Rappler! Defend Press Freedom!

YACAP condemns the ongoing and relentless offensive against press freedom in our country. Recently, news outlet Rappler announced that the Security and Exchanges Commission (SEC) has ordered the shutdown of their operations. Only a few days ago, we also witnessed a similar attack, where the National Telecommunications Council ordered the blocking of the websites of alternative media outlets such as Bulatlat alongside progressive peoples’ organizations.

This continues a long trend of attacks against journalists in the country. In 2020, the Philippine Congress shut down mainstream media outfit ABS-CBN. Additionally, under the Duterte administration, at least 22 journalists have also been killed as of December 2021.

Effective climate action relies on critical journalism that documents and exposes destructive projects, problematic policies, and other issues related to the climate crisis, even if publishing these stories supposedly goes against the politically powerful. We youth climate activists join the calls to #StandWithRappler and #DefendPressFreedom in light of these attacks!

Tampakan: The Trampled Voice of the People

by Louie Ramirez & Sundy Grace Taguinod

According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Philippines, which is in charge of granting mining corporations licenses to explore mining regions and begin operations, the Philippines possesses an estimated $840 billion in undeveloped mineral resources. Mining is incredibly vital to society in many ways, but it also has certain downsides. Mining creates employment and revenue, stimulates the economy, and supplies us with important resources such as metal ores for a variety of applications. It may be the sole source of work, income, and livelihood for some people in several underdeveloped nations.

Large-scale mining is destructive because it involves clearing thousands of hectares of rainforests and agricultural lands, deep excavations to extract minerals, the use of toxic heavy metals and chemicals to process mineral ores, and the consumption of millions of liters of water – all of which have a negative impact on the lives of Filipino citizens with grave disregard for their right to health, life, food security, livelihood, and a decent standard of living.

Open-pit mining specifically is responsible for considerable levels of water usage as well as water waste. Environmentally, the negative impacts of open-pit mining  includes many types of air, land/soil, and water contamination; it also generates potentially hazardous/toxic tailing waste, which can leach toxic compounds, heavy metals, and contaminants into the environment.

What is open-pit mining?

Open-pit mining, or open-cast mining is a surface mining technique of extracting rock or minerals from the earth by their removal from an open pit or borrow. This type of mining is distinct from long wall mining, which requires burrowing into the earth. When deposits of economically viable minerals or rocks are discovered near the surface, open-pit mining is exploited; that is, when the overburden (surface material covering the valuable deposit) is relatively thin or the material of interest is structurally unsuitable for tunneling (as would be the case for sand, cinder, and gravel). Quarrying refers to open-pit mines that generate construction materials and dimension stone. Comparably, open-pit mining is economical when the deposit is not very deep or when the terrain is sandy or fragile, making underground mining impossible. Labor expenses are cheaper, both in excavation and transportation, and heavy gear may be used. It does not require artificial illumination and permits the use of any type of explosive. 

The fight over metal mining in the Philippines has been especially heated since 1995, when the government passed a mining legislation that allowed multinational development firms access to the country’s huge gold, copper, and nickel deposits, which are among the world’s greatest. The goal was to stimulate foreign investment and new job creation. 

The next year, however, Filipinos realized how environmentally hazardous a projected rise in open-pit mineral mining would be. On March 24, 1996, a tailings pond at the Marcopper open-pit copper mine on the island of Marinduque, southeast of Manila, burst. Millions of tons of poisonous mining waste rushed down the Boac River, drowning villages, destroying the river, and polluting the sea 27 kilometers (16.7 miles) downstream. The mine was closed down by a Canadian corporation. It is currently one of the Philippines’ 14 abandoned open-pit mines, surrounded by acres of barren and eroded hillsides and large pools of hazardous acidic water tainted with high amounts of heavy metals. Following severe rains in August 2012, an even larger tailings accident occurred at the Philex copper and gold mine in Benguet, some 315 kilometers north of Manila. 20 million tons of mining tailings flowed into adjacent waterways from the ruptured tailings pond.

Despite this disaster, the country is likely to see a new open-pit mine in operation soon. Located in the southern Philippine province of South Cotabato, the Tampakan copper-gold project is touted as the largest undeveloped copper-gold minefield in Southeast Asia and among the biggest of its kind in the world. A week after the dreadful national elections on the 9th of May 2022, 11 board members of the South Cotabato province voted to lift the provincial ban on open-pit mining, with no explanations. Even though in February of the same year, an informal survey conducted by the Office of the Vice Governor of South Cotabato showed that a majority of people are against lifting the ban: a solid 12, 137 wanted the ban to remain while 499 wanted the ban to be lifted. To add, the local Catholic Church also earned 100,000 signatures for the ban not to be removed. This just goes to show that the voice of the people of South Cotabato was not heard, and the leaders of the provincial board made a crucial decision without their input The decision to lift the ban on open-pit mining will affect not only the current residents of South Cotabato and neighboring provinces, but also future generations.

Why oppose the Tampakan Project?

While open-pit mining may be the most economical form of mining, governments shouldn’t be making decisions based on economics alone. Whatever economic benefit the Tampakan Project has, it will come at the cost of human rights violations and environmental damage. Opposition to the project started in 1995, when the project was marred by the  displacement of local communities, lack of consultation, misinformation, threats and harassment, and the failure to secure free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from the Bla’an people, one of the indigeouns peoples whose ancestral lands would be affected by the project. 

In  2008, local stakeholders cited that the that the planned mining operation would lead to the pollution of the nearby downstream Lake Buluan and upstream Liguasan Marsh, damaging farmlands and fisheries and seriously impacting the food source for the wider Muslim and indigenous populations while destroying their livelihoods. This eventuality could lead to major social unrest. The 2008 report recommended that mining in the area should be banned, considering the risk of pollution, erosion, siltation, and continuing devastating flash floods and landslides. The potential huge negative impact on food security, seismic geohazard and presence of armed conflicts were also cited. For a further context, the pollution would be even worse the longer the mining process continues, with the worst of the effects happening after the mining activities end and the mines are abandoned. It is a long-term process with even more long-term effects that are possibly irreversible.

In addition to the long-term environmental damage, the project has also been linked to human rights violations. At least three incidents of extra-judicial killings are directly linked to the mining project. In August 2012, Juvy Capion and her two sons were killed by what military operatives described as an “armed encounter”, but evidence points to it being the murder of unarmed civilians. In January 2013, Kitari Capion was killed by elements of a paramilitary group, on his way back home while riding a motorcycle. In October 2013, the highest-ranking elder/leader among the Bla’ans, Anting Freay, was killed by military elements, again invoking a “military encounter”.

This history should not be neglected. Rather, it should serve as a lesson that the Tampakan project should not be opened again, not when it endangers both the environment and the lives of the Filipino people.

Bottom line: 

Allowing open-pit mining to operate imposes tremendous strain on the health, food security, and right to life and livelihood of those living in the proposed mining site. Local communities suffer from displacement, respiratory sickness, loss of farmland, and loss of livelihood as a result of mining firms. Mining firms’ claims to offer scholarships and livelihood to impacted people, particularly indigenous tribes, are palliatives in comparison to the immense environmental harm and long-term severe health effects of unsustainable mining methods. A mined-out environment will take a long time to recover. It does not always heal. Remediation initiatives may not always result in the restoration of the area’s biodiversity. Species may go extinct forever.

Government officials who approve such mining projects fail to consider these impacts. Rather, they are concerned with the profits these projects generate. We Filipino citizens must vehemently resist the implementation of these projects, and demand better from our government.

Photo credit: Jack Prommel via unsplash

Unpacking the National Inquiry on Climate Change report

Earlier this May 2022, the National Inquiry on Climate Change (NICC) under the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) released a report — the result of seven years of public hearings, consultations, and research. It outlines the way climate change impacts human rights, and the responsibility of both governments and businesses to protect human rights in the face of the climate crisis. The first of its kind in the world, this report presents another critical step towards the recognition of the climate crisis as a human rights crisis. We unpack some of its key arguments here.

Climate change is a human rights issue

The NICC report outlines how climate change negatively impacts human rights, specifically in the Philippines. Extreme weather events have killed thousands of Filipinos, and injured and displaced countless more. In addition, extreme weather, along with rising temperatures, pollution, and food and water shortages impact the Filipino’s right to health. Climate change has also led to food insecurity, and a lack of water and sanitation. Other human rights impacted include the rights to livelihood, adequate housing, preservation of culture, self-determination, development, equality and non-discrimination, and intergenerational equality.

As governments have an obligation to protect their citizens from human rights abuses, and as the NICC report outlines, climate change causes human rights to be infringed upon, governments therefore have an obligation to address climate change and mitigate its impacts. The NICC argues that otherwise, governments are enabling the infringement of the human rights of their citizens, and are therefore in breach of their duty.

Citing the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP), the NICC argues that businesses must also respect human rights. In fact, businesses are obligated, firstly, to avoid adverse human rights impacts and address them when they occur, and secondly, to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that occur as a result of their operations, products, or services.

By continuing to knowingly contribute to climate change, carbon majors are violating human rights

Carbon majors (i.e. fossil fuel corporations) have known since at least 1965 that fossil fuels, their end product, causes climate change. The NICC report confirms this through internal documents from carbon majors, publications and studies of such documents, and early scientific reports on the effects of carbon dioxide. Additionally, carbon majors have engaged in a decades-long dis- and misinformation campaign to mislead the public about climate science and climate change. They have also worked to prevent meaningful climate action by lobbying against renewable energy in governments, as well as by funding the electoral campaigns of politicians who would act in their favor. 

By continuing to extract fossil fuels, carbon majors are contributing to climate change, and thus infringing on the human rights of the global citizenry. They do so knowingly and willingly, fueled not by ignorance of the consequences of their actions but by greed and the relentless pursuit of profit and growth.

But what does this all mean for the Philippines? No carbon major has originated from the Philippines, yet its citizens bear the brunt of human rights impacts due to climate change. Rather, a vast majority of fossil fuel businesses operate from the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom, and the rest of the Global North. 

Governments must hold carbon majors accountable for human rights violations in relation to the climate crisis, and we must hold governments accountable for their inaction.

According to the NICC report, “States have a responsibility to ensure that activities under their jurisdiction or control, whether their own or those of non-State actors, do not harm people in other countries or areas outside their national jurisdiction.” It therefore follows that it is the responsibility of Global North countries to hold their own fossil fuel businesses accountable for how their emissions have infringed upon the human rights of the global populace. This includes penalizing carbon majors for their emissions, providing mechanisms to redress victims of climate change impacts, and providing climate financing for the most affected peoples and areas. Global North countries like the United States must also address how their own government machineries, such as their military, contribute to carbon dioxide emissions.

What should we be demanding from the Philippine government? In addition to addressing climate change and mitigating its effects in the country, the Philippine government is also obligated to protect its citizenry from human rights abuses perpetrated by carbon majors and the fossil fuel industry. That means phasing out existing coal power plants and not allowing the establishment of new ones, and demanding reparations from fossil fuel businesses. Additionally, the Philippine government needs to demand action from the Global North to take action against the businesses under their jurisdiction.

In light of this, we, Filipino citizens, need a government that will prioritize fighting for our rights in the face of the climate crisis. The deadline for halving global carbon dioxide emissions (as outlined in the Paris Agreement of 2015) is 2030. The administration in power for the next six years will have the monumental task of transitioning our country to a more sustainable future. We need a government with concrete plans for phasing out fossil fuels, for adaptation and mitigation, and for ensuring the wellbeing of all Filipinos during this time.

The future of climate justice in the Philippines is precarious

The findings of the NICC irrevocably frame climate change as a human rights issue. Climate change is not just an issue of the future, and it is not just an issue of the environment. People all over the globe, and especially in the Philippines, are suffering the consequences of climate change now, today. There is concrete evidence that carbon majors have knowingly and willfully contributed to climate change, and by doing so have infringed upon the human rights of every person on the planet and even of future generations. We should not have to demand that governments uphold their basic obligations to protect their citizens, yet here we are.

This report was released just days before the 2022 Philippine national elections. Since then, the possibility of a Marcos-Duterte administration has become more and more likely. Such an administration will not care for our human rights, for our environment, or for climate action. The tandem have expressed support for the NTF-ELCAC, have made known their plans for nuclear energy, and have no concrete platforms regarding climate. While the NICC report makes several recommendations to address the injustices brought about by climate change, it will be meaningless under the Marcos-Duterte leadership. For our country to have a shot at a liveable future, we cannot allow this tandem to take power.

Climate justice is social justice! No to Marcos-Duterte!

Access the full report of the NICC here
Image Credit: Levi Nicodemus via unsplash

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
Other references used

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.


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.


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.


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. 


“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

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 (