Mitzi Jonelle Tan is a full-time climate justice activist based in Metro Manila, Philippines. She is the convenor and international spokesperson of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), the Fridays For Future (FFF) of the Philippines. She is also active in FFF International, advocating for climate justice and making sure that voices of Most Affected Peoples and Areas (MAPA)’s strikers are heard, amplified, and given space. She first became an activist in 2017 after integrating with indigenous leaders of her country which pushed her to realize that collective action and system change is what we need for a just and green society.
- CURRENT CAMPAIGN: Standard Chartered, stop funding our destruction!
- LATEST PIECE: The Life We Chose: a glimpse at my story as a climate activist
- Fridays for Future: Standard Chartered Must Stop ‘Fueling the Climate Crisis’
- We won’t let your money destroy our future: letter to G20 finance ministers
- It’s time to #FightClimateInjustice: listen to the voices of MAPA, FFF strikes back
- Letter to financial institutions to stop financing fossil
- There’s no time left for climate diplomacy. Now it’s time for action: letter to world leaders in time for the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement
- UNICEF x FFF piece: Campaigning for Climate Justice in a COVID-19 World
- SHADO piece: After Four Typhoons: a civil Storm is Brewing in the Philippines
- Letter to Biden and Harris on Inauguration Day: the Time for Lies is OverLetter to Biden and Harris on Inauguration Day: the Time for Lies is Over
Mitzi Jonelle Tan is a youth climate activist from Marikina City, Metro Manila, Philippines born at 365 ppm. The Philippines is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world, and as of 2019, the 2nd most dangerous country for environmental defenders. She has always been very passionate about the environment. Even at the age of 9, she would go up to strangers and tell them about greenhouse gases and global warming and she would weep when she saw the destruction happening around her after every typhoon.
While studying at the University of the Philippines Diliman, she was a student leader and became part of the College of Science Student Council where she was part of the environmental concerns committee. In 2017, Mitzi was able to talk with one of the leaders of the Lumad indigenous group in the Philippines and he told her about how they were being militarised, displaced, harassed, and killed all for defending the forests, the environment, their home and that was why they have no choice but to fight back. That was when she realized that we need collective action to push for systemic change.
In 2019, she convened Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines, the Fridays For Future of the Philippines and has been raising awareness, talking to policy makers, organizing strikes, and making connections globally ever since. Also active in Fridays for Future International, Mitzi always brings her advocacies of climate justice, intersectional environmentalism, and leadership of the vulnerable everywhere she goes. She also always fights to make sure that voices from the Global South are heard, amplified, and given space.
Why are you striking?
The Philippines is the 2nd most vulnerable country to the climate crisis, yet our contribution to the global greenhouse gas emissions are so minimal. With this planetary emergency, common sense would dictate that climate would be at the top of the agenda and those already protecting the environment would be listened to. Instead, we have no concrete climate plans, our environmental activists and defenders are being killed, harassed, and displaced. The willful ignorance of world leaders is pushing us all to become climate activists, pushing us all to strike for justice. I am an activist because I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I don’t want to ever again be afraid of drowning in my own bedroom because of the floods. I don’t want to have anymore candle-lit dinners because our power is out and the typhoon is raging outside. I am an activist because of my deep love for the people and the environment, a love that binds me to the movement calling for climate and social justice.
What action would you like to see on climate in the immediate future?
In the Philippines, we need to declare a people’s defined climate emergency and impose a moratorium on any new dirty energy and environmentally destructive projects, such as reclamation projects and mega-dams. We need to have concrete people centered climate adaptation policies with proper implementation. We then need to start developing and prioritizing research and development into renewable energy and consulting with the people, especially the workers, farmers, and fisherfolk, and urban poor on how to begin our just transition. Empowering the youth and those most vulnerable with knowledge is also a key part in ensuring active citizen participation in climate policy building. We also need our national leaders to echo the voices of the youth and the environmental defenders and truly demand climate justice not just through words but also through actions by putting a stop to the imperialist plunder of our lands. Carbon majors need to drastically reduce their carbon dioxide emissions with concrete plans and not just say net zero by a date that’s too far away as if it’s a magic wand that answers everything. All this, and more, is needed if we want to survive.