Climate advocates take part in nationwide caravan

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Acosta20150908The Climate Reality Project (CRP), a global movement founded by Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore, aims to raise awareness on the importance of collective action to address climate change, as well as gather grassroots support to encourage leaders to come up with a strong climate agreement in Paris during the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) come December.

CRP’s efforts have finally reached the Philippine shores as it launched a nationwide climate caravan. As part of its “Road to Paris” campaign, the climate caravan focuses on the roles of the Filipino youth and the local government units to galvanize community climate action. In partnership with Dakila—Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, it aims to promote climate heroism among the young people.

“We are launching our newest campaign for the Filipino young people called ‘Bakit, Bakit Hindi,’ an adaptation of CRP’s ‘Why? Why Not?’ initiative in 2014, which is mainly a social media campaign aiming to bring forward the Filipino youth as catalyzers of collective action in the lead-up to the Paris Climate negotiations,” said CRP country manager Rodne Galicha.

Araullo20150908In this campaign, young people will be given the opportunity to ask probing questions to government officials, Philippine negotiators and environmental agencies like the Department of Energy an Natural Resources (DENR) and the Climate Change Commission through 30-second videos.

“These videos will be utilized to stimulate discourse via social media over the next few months, especially during our nationwide climate caravan, where climate volunteers will hold dialogues with local government units, vulnerable communities such as indigenous groups, women and children, as well as youth representatives from all regions nationwide. We, therefore, encourage local government units and their respective councils to issue resolutions in behalf of their people to call on world leaders to sign a strong and bold climate agreement,” said Galicha.

Representing Luzon youth delegates from eight regions of Luzon, youth leader Marlex Tuson from Ateneo de Manila University who participated in the Road to Paris Filipino Youth Climate Consultation and Workshop stressed the collective action of the young people to influence drastic change and policy reform.


“The trauma of experiencing the ill-effects of typhoons in the Bicol region hurts me. But it’s a different sense of fulfillment when I do the things I’m really passionate about. It draws a smile that hides no worries of sustaining the energy in pursuing the cause,” said Tuson.

Legarda20150908The Philippine campaign specifically aims to strengthen the country’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), lobby for gradual but sustained phase-out of coal-fired power plants and the implementation of the People’s Survival Fund, and emphasizes the human rights approach to the climate crisis issue by putting the concerns of the most vulnerable communities including indigenous groups, women, and the youth.

“The Road to Paris initiative aims to gather millions of signatures from all over the world urging parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to finalize a bold climate agreement. We’re working in eight pivotal countries—Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, the Philippines, South Africa, and the United States—to rally millions to support practical climate solutions like renewable energy and tip the balance for a successful agreement in Paris,” said Don Henry, Public Policy Fellow at the University of Melbourne and member of the international Board of CRP.

As special envoy of CRP’s founder Al Gore, Henry explained that the Road to Paris campaign is uniting citizens, corporations, and organizations on every continent to demand a strong agreement at COP21 that will dramatically cut emissions and accelerate the planet-wide shift to clean energy,

Lasco20150908“The Philippines has a unique opportunity to be a leader at home and on the world stage with tackling the climate crisis. Having a ‘green development path’ that builds jobs and innovation in renewable energy and adaptation to climate change is a great opportunity for the Philippines. This can help reduce greenhouse pollution and grow jobs. The Philippines can play a global leadership role at the international climate negotiations in Paris. Already the Philippines voice has been persuasive. The country can urge all countries to act to achieve a strong international climate agreement,” said Henry.

Joining CRP’s campaign for a strong climate agreement is United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Champion, Sen. Loren B. Legarda, chairman of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and principal author of the Climate Change Act and the People’s Survival Fund Act.

“We need to explain the human face of climate change. It is not just a scientific and environmental issue but an all-encompassing threat to our basic human rights—food, potable water, shelter, decent livelihood and life itself. We need leaders who are informed so that they can make ordinary people understand the climate crisis and be able to connect it to issues of everyday life,” said Legarda.

Legarda further emphasized ‘that leaders must pave the way for the needed paradigm shift from an extractive and consumptive economics to sustainable development. We should veer away from the throwaway culture and aim for a zero waste, low-carbon economy. We have to undertake resilience measures to ensure that communities are able to adapt to the changing climate and at the same time contribute to preventing further rise in global temperatures.’

“Moreover, our country’s intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) should reflect a strong stance towards deep cuts in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as a way to mitigate climate change. It is unfortunate, however, that we continue to witness coal plants being constructed. In the past five years alone, 21 coal-fired power plant projects were granted an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC),” said Legarda.

Representing the indigenous peoples of the country, Representative Teddy Baguilat of the lone district of Ifugao emphasized the challenge of the climate crisis to the resiliency of the indigenous knowledge, systems and practices.

“Our indigenous peoples have survived through the years. Positively, our traditional way of life assures us of our resolve to continually adapt to the changing patterns of the climate. We may be affected by this ecological crisis but our contribution to humanity to solve it has been consistent while we live in harmony with nature,” said Baguilat.

Asserting the need to rethink development models, which harm the environment, Baguilat said that pending bills on land use, mining and forestry, must be approved immediately to help reduce the ill-effects of climate change.

Journalist and applied physics graduate Atom Araullo, who himself experienced the wrath of Typhoon Haiyan, regard climate change as the most important issue that humanity faces.

“The climate crisis is perhaps the most important issue that humanity faces, and we’ve only begun to work on the solutions. Even though the science is clear and the effects are being felt, it’s alarming that we still continue our path toward self-destruction,” Araullo said.

Climate Reality Project volunteer since 2009, Atty. Persida Rueda-Acosta, chief of the Public Attorney’s Office of the country, emphasized the rights-based approach to climate action ‘must be practiced and age specific requirements met in conducting disaster relief’.

“As the climate crisis, such as Typhoon Haiyan unleashes its wrath, my thoughts are on the vulnerable sectors in our society. Women, children and even the elderly become even more vulnerable in times of disasters. They suffer the brunt of natural calamities. During these times, the authorities must be vigilant in the protection of their rights especially that of women and children who are prone to human trafficking,’ said Acosta, who is also a columnist for The Manila Times.

Famous mountaineer Gideon Lasco, a medical doctor and anthropologist, encouraged advocates to physically experience nature to appreciate its importance to humanity.

“I see promise in the idea of passion as basis for advocacy. Divers would care about coral reefs, mountaineers will care about mountains, travelers will care about all natural sights that they see. My advocacy is to make people care about issues affecting the environment by making them appreciate what the outdoors is all about,” Lasco said.

As official courier partner of CRP’s Road to Paris campaign together with the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) and the Ecological Society of the Philippines (ESP), JRS Express celebrating its 55th year founding anniversary committed to deliver actual petition forms for free.

“We are proud, honored and privileged to partner with the Catholic Church on the Climate Reality Project to send a strong message to the members of the COP 21 in Paris and all the people and leaders of the global world that our planet and people are dying all because the development model refuses to stop greenhouse gas emissions and continue with their destructive and greedy ways. It is hoped that we will be able to get 20 million people to sign this petition. In line with Pope Francis encyclical the Laudato Si we must change our ways and protect Gods creation. And we vow to do so,” said Antonio Claparols, president of JRS Express and founder ESP.

Promoting sustainable transport, COMET electric vehicle operator Global Electric Transport (GET) committed to support CRP’s Road to Paris campaign and has entered the field to make a difference. GET provides a solution to the country’s growing problems on mobility with an intelligent, integrated and sustainable mass transport system built around energy-efficient electric vehicles, born out of a mission to build green and people-friendly cities.

“Apart from advocating environment-friendly practices, GET has set out to genuinely make a change in the lives of people, most especially the marginalized group such as public utility drivers. GET believes that progress has never been about profits alone, it has always been about giving back to the people and mother nature, thereby pledging full support to the Climate Reality Project. Together, we can make a difference,” said Anthony Dy, GET country managing director.

Engaging with the climate campaign, the Cravings Group, with ISO certification on environmental management issued by TÜV Rheinland Philippines Inc., committed to reduce waste and harmful effects on the environment and recycle materials where needed.

“Together with green chefs, lifestyle change advocates and environmental homemakers, let us all learn how to run a green kitchen: from proper waste resource management to using organically-grown vegetables and meet and to newfound ways of preparing and eating food,” Cravings Group said in a statement.

The Road to Paris campaign’s climate caravan initiative is also done in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), the Climate Change Commission’s #NOWPH Greenera¬tion program with the National Youth Commission (NYC).

Partners supporting the campaign includes Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, Bayay Sibuyanon Inc., ISDA, Loyola Mountaineers, Manila Water, Lorimar Publications and Uratex.

For more information, visit facebook.com/climaterealityphilippines

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