PMCJ EarthDay Pic1As the Filipino People commemorates Earth Day today, our planet, according to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has already breached the 400 parts per million of greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere. It is the most unprecedented that one scientist comments “CO2 concentrations haven’t been this high in millions of years. Even more alarming is the rate of increase in the last five decades and the fact that CO2 stays in the atmosphere for hundreds or thousands of years. This milestone is a wakeup call that our actions in response to climate change need to match the persistent rise in CO2. Climate change is a threat to life on Earth and we can no longer afford to be spectators.”

This year also, the country has been experiencing the worst episode of drought that rendered most parts of Mindanao dry. Parched lands could no longer grow crops sending thousands of farmers to hunger and depravation. The unbelievable heat that has been generated has exacerbated the El Nino impacts. A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Mindanao. Meanwhile, fish kills due to El Nino have been a terrible occurrence in Eastern Visayas.

Coinciding during the Earth Day celebration is a gathering of more than 190 countries at the United Nations headquarters in New York. These countries are set to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change that calls for keeping the average global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius while pursuing efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, all above pre-industrial levels. Last year, the Philippines championed the campaign for the inclusion of the 1.5 degrees Celsius global temperature limit in the Paris Agreement during the 21st Conference of Parties at Le Bourget, France. On its part, the Philippines has committed in its INDC ( Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) to reduce by 2030 its carbon emissions by 70 percent conditioned on climate finance. PMCJ lauds these efforts from the Climate Change Commission and will support this tract to end the country’s reliance on coal and other dirty and harmful energy.

However, the Climate Change Commission’s pronouncement is not yet a conclusive one. Much of this commitment of reducing carbon emissions will be left to the new president who will be elected on May 9, 2016. Currently, the Aquino Administration has expanded the country’s dependency on coal by allowing 118 coal mining permits and 59 coal power plants unfettered.

Twenty three (23) of the new coal fired power plants will go online by year 2020. If this will happen, this will increase the share of dirty energy in the Philippine energy mix by more than 50% in 2020 and will lock us up our dependency to coal to not less than 20 years starting at 2020. This will create a wedge from achieving the 2030 targets based from the Philippines’ Nationally Determined Contribution ( NDC).

The 2016 elections will be a serious field environmentalists, anti-mining advocates, climate justice activists, women, human rights groups and all those in the progressive community have to consider. With less than 20 days to go, it has been glaringly evident how those vying for the elective posts stand for the environment and climate. As PMCJ examines the presidentiables, their understanding of climate change is disturbingly low. How much more if scrutinized from a climate justice perspective?

This Earth Day 2016 let us be reminded of our right to protect our environment, our right to a clean and healthy environment and the right of the next generation to live free from fear. Nothing can refrain us in putting a stop the further deterioration of our planet.

Climate Justice Now! System Change not Climate Change !

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice ( PMCJ)

Earth Day, 22 April 2016

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