Youth group raises alarm over ‘devastating’ climate report

PRESS RELEASE
June 28, 2021

Filipino climate activists from Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP) are clamoring for more urgent climate action from national and world leaders after a leaked report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) described a devastating future in store for humanity due to global warming.

The 4,000-page IPCC document leaked to Agence France-Presse last June 23 described scenarios of “unlivable” heat, cities submerged in seawater, and widespread hunger and malnutrition, all attributable to climate change, within the next few decades.

“This is not a world we want to inherit,” said Xian Guevarra, National Coordinator of YACAP. “Our leaders, who probably won’t experience any of this, are committing their children and grandchildren to a terrible, possibly unlivable future.”

“To think that, before my generation turns 40 or 50 years old, we could already be living in a country experiencing constant deadly heat waves, food and water shortages, and cities like Manila and Cebu could be partially underwater due to rising sea levels,” furthered Guevarra.

The Philippines is already one of the most impacted countries in the world when it comes to climate change today, and rising global temperatures are expected to make the situation even worse. Aside from the direct impacts of climate change on Filipinos, the Department of Finance has also recently warned that climate change could reverse any economic gains the Philippines has made in recent years.

The youth group called for more immediate plans and action from the national government when it comes to climate adaptation and mitigation.

“What we’re experiencing now with the climate crisis is here to stay. We need empowering, contextualized climate education and strong adaptation plans defined by the most impacted communities themselves,” said Mitzi Jonelle Tan, international spokesperson of YACAP. “Any future development must consider the reality of the climate crisis, and must only be pursued if it protects both the people and the planet.”

“The industrialized countries that have led us to this crisis have a climate debt to pay for their historical and current carbon emissions. A stop to emissions and an immediate and just transition to green industries is not just their responsibility, it’s reparation for injustices. We, the youth and the people, will make sure this debt is paid,” continued Tan. #

#IndependenceDay2021 Statement

Fight for freedom, fight for democracy!

Using the voice of resistance and actions for freedom, the Filipino people celebrated their first Independence Day in 1898 as we broke free from the Spanish Colonization. In 1946, our Filipino ancestors, yet again, did it with valor and determination against the American forces. May this serve as a reminder that the voice and mobilization of the people go a long way in fighting for sovereignty. Our Filipino ancestors and heroes did their part; it is now time to do ours.

As we celebrate Philippine Independence Day, may we be reminded of the fight that we are facing in the West Philippine Sea. We must not turn a blind eye to the continuous use of China of our natural resources for their benefit. With this, let us continue to call and urge the Duterte administration to cut attachments and put the Filipino people and our territory first. Together, let us fight for freedom and democracy!

#SaveWestPhilippineSea
#AtinAngPinas
#IndependenceDay

The West Philippine Sea issue is a climate issue

by Michelle Cadiz and Jon Bonifacio

We’ve all heard it repeatedly from our president over the past few weeks — there’s nothing we can do about it, China is here to stay. Stay in the Philippines, to be exact, in illegal settlements on a few of our islands and reefs, because our current government can’t seem to bring itself to do anything about it.

It’s no surprise. Chinese boot-licking by the Duterte administration has been the norm for some time now, of course; the excuses just change from time to time. But it doesn’t matter what the reason is; at the end of the day, China’s still the one with free reign in the area, despite widespread condemnation across Philippine society.

But why should a climate group like YACAP care about this? At first glance, it doesn’t seem anywhere related to carbon dioxide emissions or fossil fuels.

Simply put, we should care because this is a climate issue. It’s an issue affecting people today and will continue to affect people in the future if it remains unresolved. With May being the National Month of the Ocean, it’s also important to talk about the different problems we are facing in our waters.

You only have to do a cursory search online to find the missing links between this affront to our sovereignty and the climate. On the surface level, China’s aggression into the West Philippine Sea has led to the destruction of coral reefs in the Kalayaan group of islands. According to science advocacy group Agham, the damage is estimated to cost the Philippines PHP 1.3 trillion a year. More concretely, this has severely impacted the small fisherfolk of Zambales and the surrounding provinces that fish in the Kalayaan group of islands. They have suffered loss of livelihood due to the loss of reef productivity, aggression from the Chinese military occupying the islands, and competition from Chinese fishing operations.

Looking at the long-term goals of China’s occupation of the Kalayaan group of islands, it’s also clear that fossil fuels play a part in the equation. The US Geological Survey estimated that the South China Sea (including parts of the West Philippine Sea) could have as much as 350 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and over 20 billion barrels of oil in its reserves. Whichever country controls the area — and China is claiming a gigantic portion of the South China Sea for itself with its Nine-Dash Line— would be able to conduct deep-sea operations to extract this oil.

Deep-sea operations would have compounded impacts on the environment. Firstly, these operations would directly damage the seafloor ecosystem. Secondly, the ecosystem would be constantly at risk of oil spills in the process. Lastly, this would put more emissions into the atmosphere from extraction operations and from the consumption of the extracted fossil fuels. With China currently the largest carbon emitter today, they cannot be permitted to add literal fuel to their destructive fire.

On a deeper level, China’s incursion into the West Philippine Sea is another example of capitalist-driven colonialism. Imperialist nations have historically invaded and destabilized regions in search for resources, and just as the United States invaded Western Asia in the early 2000s, China is invading the Philippines. Both superpowers claimed they were in the right, the United States by asserting a war against terror, and China by asserting that they have a historic claim on the area. The truth is simple: they were, and are, after oil.

It is the historic and current greed of the imperialist global powers such as China, the United States, and Europe that is the root cause of the climate crisis. They have hoarded resources from the rest of the world during the golden age of empire, and continue to do so through neocolonial methods today. The profit-motivated world system of overproduction that they facilitate has resulted in massive amounts of greenhouse gases over time, and it’s countries like the Philippines that are bearing the brunt of climate change.

We cannot separate the fight for climate justice from the fight for decolonization. The fight for sovereignty, for people and for planet in the West Philippine Sea and elsewhere is just another example of the country’s struggle against modern-day colonialism.

So yes, our government might say that China is here to stay, but only for as long as we, the Filipino people, let it happen. The fight continues to pressure our government into action — though we all know it’s high time for new, better leadership — and to assert our rights as a people in whatever way we can in the face of these affronts to our sovereignty.

This article is part of the Spotlight series by YACAP’s Education Committee which talks about various issues related to climate and climate action.

Updated June 12, 2021

Free Palestine!

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people against the systemic violence and oppression perpetuated by the Israeli government and military which has caught the world’s attention in the past few days but has existed since the early 20th century.

The state of Israel was established as reparations for the appalling antisemitism and ethnic cleansing of Jews that happened in World War II, but the land of Palestine was not for Britain to give away. The erasure of Palestine’s history and people by the Israeli government during the Nakba in the mid-1900s and the immense scale of the violence inflicted by the state of Israel on the Palestinian people in the present day [1] makes it clear that this is not a conflict — as conflicts are two-sided — but extermination.

As advocates for climate justice, first and foremost, we must recognize that the fight for our climate, our present and our future does not exist in a vacuum. The profit-oriented system that causes the climate crisis is directly rooted in colonialism and systemic oppression. Often, the people exposed to violence and actively oppressed are those most vulnerable to the climate crisis, yet are also the least responsible.

Militarization is in itself a significant contributor to the climate crisis. Bulk purchasing of fossil energy to meet military logistics demands and fuel the devastation of an entire people can only be unnecessary in the context of our current climate emergency. Due to Israeli militarization and occupation, many Palestinians also face water shortage issues and threats to food security, which are only exacerbated by climate change [2].

We must understand that the violence on the part of the Israel state is mainly perpetrated and condoned by their current government and ruling elite backed by the United States [3][4], and not Jews or the people of Israel in general, which would include fellow youth climate activists. But in solidarity with the most affected and oppressed, we must all be critical of the past and present decisions of the state of Israel.

Climate justice is social justice. It is our duty as activists, as people, to stand in solidarity with the most oppressed. This crisis being driven by the Israeli government must be resolved at its roots. We must stand with the Palestinian people in calling for their liberation in the means they see necessary.

Support Palestinian liberation groups and movements:
@letstalkpalestine
bdsmovement.net

#FreePalestine
#SaveSheikhJarrah
#SaveGaza

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2021/05/12/the-human-cost-of-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict-over-the-past-decade-infographic/?sh=2aa05b74457b
[2] https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/opinions/2019/11/28/palestine-is-a-climate-justice-issue
[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/17/power-up-biden-administration-approves-735-million-weapons-sale-israel-raising-red-flags-some-house-democrats/
[4] https://abc7.com/biden-israel-palestine-conflict-2021-why-are-and-hamas-fighting-gaza/10625463/

#MayoUno2021 Statement

On 1 May 1886, the resolution calling for the adoption of the eight-hour day at the 1885 convention of the American Federation of Labor has become effective. Decades and years past, the movement advocating for a more pro-people and pro-environment workspace is still alive. We stand together with the workers as we call for national minimum wage and aid from the government. As we face the crises today, only by heeding the calls of the masses can we truly achieve our call for just recovery.

#MayoUno2021
#10KAyudaIbigayNa
#AyudangSapatParaSaLahat

We Stand with Myanmar!

Democracy is letting people’s voices be heard.

Since February 1, 2021, Myanmar has been fighting against the militarization and control of power as their elected democratic leader, Suu Kyi, has been detained.

Now, their military commander, Min Aung Hlaing, is in charge. This unjust turn of event caused a coup where students, teachers, lawyers, government workers, and bank officers protested. Their protests are met by water cannon, rubber bullets, and live ammunition by the side of the security forces and on March 27, 2021, more than 100 people were killed.

We, at YACAP, stand in solidarity with the environmental defenders who are part of the protests being done and people in Myanmar who are being deprived of their right to choose their leader. As part of our points of unity, we stand up for system change and support the fight against tyranny.

To the people in Myanmar, we raise our voices and uphold your democratic rights. We see you and we fight with you!

#WhatsHappeningInMyanmar

SIGNATORY ORGANIZATIONS
Agham Youth
APTAS
Batangas State University College of Arts and Sciences Student Council
Saribuhay
University of the Philippines College of Science Student Council
University of the Philippines Association of Biology Majors
University of the Philippines Geology Majors’ Society
University of the Philippines Zoological Society



Remembering Kidapawan

In 2016, thousands of farmers from North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur, and Compostella Valley protested to demand for sacks of rice, seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides as they struggle during the El Nino Season. The farmers, along with their families, are starving and they only demanded for the governor to provide them their basic needs. Unfortunately, their demand was not heard and the peaceful protest turned into a massacre as protesters were killed, arrested, injured and went missing.

If the people vulnerable to the climate crisis are treated this way for crying for help, one can only imagine what the state can do as our situation worsens. Five years have passed yet these marginalized groups are still on the same situation, asking for the same needs they deserve to receive from the administration. As the climate crisis rises, farmers are prone to the impacts of climate change. We need to put pressure and demand proper governance, uphold farmers’ rights, and ensure this event won’t happen again.

We, at YACAP, stand in solidarity as we remember the farmers who fought for their families’ needs. Alongside the crafting of a better and sustainable system, the government must ensure that no one gets left behind. The growing needs of people must, not only be addressed, but also not approached with violence and impunity.

#StopTheAttacks #DefendTheDefenders

Youth climate groups to Standard Chartered Bank: “Clean up your dirty business!”

FRIDAY, MARCH 19 2021 | Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), 350.org Pilipinas, and Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (KPNE) staged a protest action at the Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) office in Makati City today to demand that the bank stop funding coal-fired power plants and other environmentally destructive projects in the Philippines and around the world. This was done as part of the Global Climate Strike and #CleanUpStandardChartered campaign, initiated by the Fridays for Future international climate movement sparked by Greta Thunberg, calling for an end to all investments in the fossil fuel industry and to say #NoMoreEmptyPromises to world leaders and key players.

“Standard Chartered Bank, stop funding our destruction! You poured over 1.8 billion USD into coal monsters, Aboitiz Equity Ventures and San Miguel Corporation through Top Frontier Investment Holdings, in our country. Do you understand the pain that you bring to Filipinos? We have lived through the heartache and devastation of the climate crisis. What you’re doing with coal is fueling the crisis and is taking away my future and the future of all Filipino youth.” said Mitzi Jonelle Tan, international spokesperson of YACAP. “Enough empty promises. Across the nation and the planet, the youth, alongside the most impacted communities, are standing up against this injustice. If you’re really “here for good” like you say in your slogan, then divest from coal. Choose the people and planet over the profit.”

Alongside the protest in Makati, on-ground mobilizations were also held by other youth and grassroots organizations in other parts of the country, some of which are continually  affected by SCB-funded projects. These included actions in Pangasinan, Batangas, Leyte, Misamis Oriental, and Metro Manila.

We’re striking in my city today because we’re the ones directly affected by all these dirty businesses Standard Chartered is funding,” said Aldrich Macatangay, a member of YACAP from Batangas City. “Standard Chartered, if you don’t listen to our demands now, remember us as the people you’re willingly turning your backs on even when we’re standing here, clearly and explicitly underlining what we want and why we need this. Remember us as the people you’re trading in to deepen your pockets with more money. We’ll remember you, and the world will remember you. All you’re doing is fueling our anger.

Activists participating in the #CleanUpStandardChartered campaign plan in the short term to stop the bank from financing companies that participate in the coal industry, and in the long term to have the bank phase out all fossil fuel financing. The effects of fossil fuel-driven climate change has already affected entire nations across the globe, including the Philippines, which was battered by four typhoons last year in the span of a month; one of them, Typhoon Rolly, was the strongest storm landfall in recorded history.

The catastrophic effects of climate change can already be felt all across the globe, and the very people who are standing at the frontlines of environmental defense and are struggling for their voices to be heard are the ones who are continually targeted, harassed, vilified, and even killed,” said Eco Dangla, Convenor of the Pangasinan People’s Strike for the Environment.  “If we’re to construct a solid, sustainable, and just climate policy, it is an absolute necessity to include and ensure the rights and welfare of our environmental defenders, who are often also part of the most vulnerable, marginalized, and exploited sectors of society.
So many plans and promises have been made, but we have yet to see those plans crystallize into concrete, effective, and immediate steps towards mitigating the effects of climate change,” said Xian Guevarra, national coordinator of YACAP. “The climate emergency is an emergency – and we need to start treating it like one. With the continued extraction and investment in fossil fuels, the prioritization of the wallets of the few, and the perpetuation of empty promises, however, humanity’s battle with the climate crisis is far from being resolved.

Contact: Smrz Dancel, Media Liaison
yacaphilippines@gmail.com, (+63)921-891-8498 / (+63)915-139-5847 

Link to this press release: http://bit.ly/yacap319pr

Editorial note: Pictures of strikes from across the globe and across the country: https://fffutu.re/scbmarch19media

IN PHOTOS: March 19 #NoMoreEmptyPromises Global Climate Strike

The Philippines joined the youth on every continent for the global climate strike last March 19, 2021 by coordinating various physical and digital actions across the country. Find out below how some Filipino climate activists spent their day that day.

In Makati City, National Capital Region, youth activists brought the fight to the doorstep of Standard Chartered and called for the immediate end of coal investment by the bank. Bank representatives received our demand letter, as well as a giant 60″ x 30″ check displaying the amount of funding provided by Standard Chartered to local companies involved in coal. So, you know, they don’t forget about us too easily. (Photos courtesy of 350 Pilipinas / Leo Sabangan)

Young residents of Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental also took part in the Global Climate Strike with their own witty placards and banners drawing heavily from hugot culture. No matter what our relationship status is, for sure we can all agree that big banks can do much better than their current toxic significant other.

We make our way north from Mindanao to Tacloban, Leyte in Visayas, where strikers held up signs with the calls #CleanEnergyNow, #RaiseYourStandards, and #DefendEnviDefenders. As we should recall, Tacloban bore the brunt of the devastation in 2013 from the costliest typhoon to ever hit the country, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Student activists from Laguna took part in an action outside a university in Los Baños, where they distributed pamphlets on how exactly big banks are funding the climate crisis — a great way to get our message across to people outside our immediate social media bubbles.

Dagupan City, Pangasinan saw a climate strike conducted by the youth and other sectors of society, where they called for an end to coal as well as the rejection of proposed waste-to-energy plants in the province. Pangasinan is home to the largest coal plant in the Philippines, which is owned by San Miguel Corporation, which in turn is funded by — you guessed it — Standard Chartered Bank. Their program was cut short by the police, but thankfully no one was arrested. (Photos courtesy of Anakbayan Pangasinan)

And just look at what these Batangueños did — vibrant, wonderful, beautiful artworks. Our youth strikers from Batangas sure went all the way with their strike in terms of visuals.

We capped the long day off with a short online action featuring Nicole Rath from Urgewald and Eco Dangla from Pangasinan People’s Strike for the Environment as speakers. Participants got the chance to participate in the strike digitally and show off their homemade placards (and what wonderful placards they made, too).

Justice for the Victims of the Bloody Sunday!

Trigger warning: violence, death, murder

A few days after Duterte ordered the police and military to kill people and forget about human rights, the gruesome massacre of various activists and environmental defenders happened.

Anti-reclamation mass leader Ka Manny Asuncion, fisherfolk leaders Chai and Ariel Evangelista, disaster survivors and relief operations members Melvin Dasigao and Makmak Bacasno were among the 9 people who were killed that day. 4 human rights defenders were also detained that same day.

To date, at least 30 activists were killed in Southern Tagalog ever since Duterte stepped in office. It is clear that the current administration has absolutely zero care about the lives of the innocent, painting them as terrorists then killing them the next day. The issue of red-tagging and terror-tagging has been rapidly increasing with the government being the number 1 perpetuator of this act to silence everyone that speaks up about the incompetence of the administration.

We stand in solidarity with the defenders in Southern Tagalog. We call for justice for the slain and for the arrested to be free. We call for the removal of the Anti-terrorism Law, the tool used to legalize the arrests and justify the killings of activists.

We call for the green new leadership we have always mentioned, a leadership that will put the people and the planet over their own political and personal gain.

This week has been hard for all of us, but as we mourn, we are also filled with rage. The people, united, will never be defeated.

#DefendTheDefenders
#StopTheAttacks
#DefendST