BY MARJORIE PAMINTUAN
It has been over a year since I first joined the youth climate movement. My involvement in this advocacy started out with Agham Youth (Student Advocates of Science and Technology for the People) early in 2008 as part of the organization’s goal to raise awareness and lead youth actions against climate change.
Since then, our organization held discussions with different student groups as well as grassroots and people’s organizations on the topic.
It was in 2009 that we began corresponding with 350.org, linking up our organization’s local advocacy to the international level. 350.org is an international grassroots movement that aims to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from the current 390 parts per million (PPM) back to 350 PPM to prevent runaway climate change. To achieve this goal, all countries must cooperate in reducing carbon emissions with the stress that the responsibility is on major emitters like the United States and other industrialized countries to implementing drastic cuts in their emissions.
Since then, Agham Youth has been part of the international climate movement pushing for genuine solutions and climate justice. In September 2009, I was able to participate in the Bangkok Intercessional Talks as a Filipino delegate in 350.org’s Asian Youth Climate Workshop. On the October 24, 2009 International Day of Climate Action, Agham Youth helped put the Philippines on the map by coordinating seven climate actions all over the country. Later on, together with other climate activists from the People’s Action on Climate Change (PACC) and the Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA), I became part of the 350.org delegation in the COP 15 in Copenhagen, Denmark on December 2009.
The COP 15 failed to result in to a meaningful and binding agreement that will address climate change. Concerned groups all-over the world, including the PACC and PCWA, expressed great disappointment over the Copenhagen Accord. Though the Accord recognizes the need for deep and drastic cuts on carbon emissions based on equity, it does not indicate what targets should be met and who are the most responsible for reaching those targets. The 350 PPM goal is not included in the text, nor will it be achieved by the very low carbon cut targets offered by developed countries. The US committed a 4 percent cut: an unbelievably low target, in fact the lowest among the developed nations, for a country which has the share of almost 30 percent of the global CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. Another disappointing feature of the Accord is the funds offered by the developed countries to help developing countries adapt to climate change will come from loans, which spells more debt added to the burden of poor countries like the Philippines.
Back here at home, it is very disturbing that the new government does not yet have a concrete plan regarding the environment and climate change. We do have the Climate Change Bill of 2009 that mandates the creation of the Climate Change Commission. However, this plan is bound to fail if President Benigno Aquino 3rd will continue to implement former President Gloria Arroyo’s policies regarding the environment.
A case in point is our current sources of electric power. Coal remains a major source of power in the Philippines. Though there are cleaner and safer indigenous resources such as hydropower, geothermal, and wind energy, a large portion of the current power generation mix comes from fossil fuel. Even as the past administration aimed to develop energy self-sufficiency, it approved the building of more coal-fired power plants instead of increasing renewable and carbon-free sources of energy.
Coal power plants are indeed “factories of death;” as Dr. James Hansen called them; that largely contribute to climate change. They adversely affect the immediate environment, livelihood and health of surrounding communities here in our country. Even the transport of coal can cause disaster. The recent Typhoon Domeng that hit the Philippines capsized a cargo ship loaded with coal in Nasugbu, Batangas, spilling tons of its load in sea, immediately affecting the fishing grounds of nearby fishing villages.
Various groups and organizations here in the Philippines are already at work helping to address climate change. In the international level, 350.org is continuing its campaign by organizing another international day of climate action in October 10. On this date, people all over the world will participate in the Global Work Party that seeks to show the world what united groups and communities can do to solve the climate problem and show international policy makers that the people are doing their share in solving the climate crisis, they too should do their part and be serious about it.
Agham Youth will take part in the 10/10/10 Global Work Party as continuation of its climate advocacy. We will do series of actions and information-education activities on climate change that will culminate in 10/10/10. You can help support our cause by following this link and voting three times for our project proposal 10days/10 actoins/10 pledges for a Safe Climate Future at bit.ly/AY350project.