Ideas to form a climate justice movement in the Philippines percolated as early as in 2007 by organizations that witnessed the heightened impacts of climate change in the country and are exposed to the politics of UNFCCC Conference of Parties particularly that happened in COP 13 in 2007 in Bali. Peoples' movements, particularly those campaigning the notion of illegitimate and ecological debt came up with a strong basis on the need to form an activist climate justice movement. The objective is to advance the radical analysis and position that while developed countries and their corporations are accountable for the destruction of the climate system, however, developing countries and governments must have to address the reduction of its GHG emissions, starting with coal.
Climate justice was at the fulcrum of the debate during the said COP 13 and the Philippine CSOs who attended the said COP in Bali agreed to form a movement that will raise, address and strive to address the disproportionate burdens imposed on poor and marginalized communities by a handful of few, rich and powerful which profit on the continuing destruction of the environment, climate, and the commons. Led by Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development and Freedom from Debt Coalition the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) was established in July 2009.
In 2010, around 40 national organizations, social movements and non-government organizations affiliated to the formation change its name from Climex to PMCJ. The movement embraced as part of its unity the building safe and sustainable resilient communities and addressing impacts of climate change on food, land, and water. By the year 2008, the movement had set up its organizational structure and campaigns and advocacy. By far, after nearly ten years of existence, the following are the contexts and critical milestones vis-a-vis PMCJ:
Ambitious Emission Reduction Under the Cut and Be Just Campaign, the PMCJ has made it prominent to the national and international arena the call for the drastic reduction in the emissions by the first world countries to slow down the rise in climate temperature rise.
Peoples Urgent Demand The country’s adaptation to climate change agenda was developed within the people-centered rehabilitation and adaptation following a series of devastating storms and typhoons that continuously diminishing the resiliency of poor and marginalized communities. The several years of work of PMCJ dealing with strong weather events and slow onsets led to the development of the Peoples’ Alternatives for Development.
Energy Transformation PMCJ was able to bring the discourse on coal and fossil fuel as major climate culprits. The debate revolves around the scientific argument that burning of coal and fossil fuels through energy production systems contribute largely to steep and steady warming of the world’s temperature. This campaign gave birth to a more widespread anti-coal campaign in the Philippines which as of now has received broad support from other CSOs and institutions outside the movement. PMCJ is known for its coal busting effort through plant-by-plant and project-to-project.
Divestment from Coal and Fossil Fuel Owing to the big capital poured into the coal and fossil fuel projects, the movement engaged private and public institutions including the church to divest from dirty, costly, and deadly coal and fossil fuel businesses. Among prominent investment entities that responded positively was the Norwegian Pension Fund. At present, the PMCJ is closely working together with the church for its planned divestment.
Legal Battle as a complementary component to movement-based, grassroots-led campaigning, the PMCJ has filed several cases and complaints before the regular courts and quasi-judicial bodies. Such include the Supreme Court case on Coal specifically the continuing mandamus case, Complaint filed with the Compliance Advisory Ombudsman (CAO) of the WorldBank Group on IFC investments through a financial intermediary, corruption, administrative and environmental cases filed at different levels of courts.
Consolidated the work and orientation of Food Land Water and Climate and Building Safe Sustainable Resilient Communities for Vulnerable Sectors Including Children, Women, and Families based from the accumulated experiences of its work in strong weather events (Typhoon Haiyan, aka Yolanda) and slow onsets (2016 drought in Mindanao).
Strengthening the Movement There were two major components of the PMCJ’s strategic program designed to strengthen the national movement: the Popular Education/Grassroots Leadership Formation Program and Institutional Strengthening. The first aims to develop the capacity of the sites of struggles/communities, network members, and coalitions to understand the complexity of the issues surrounding climate justice and articulate sector-specific and thematic demands and positions. The latter has the purpose to further broaden the movement operating on a consensus approach and strengthening the unities of the coalition. From a handful of members, the PMCJ now has more than a hundred members across the country with allies and partners from different sectors and institutions here and overseas.
While there have been significant accomplishments and results of the PMCJ work and campaign on the ground and chapters, the partners from outside the Philippines, the networks and allies, there is a perception coming from the members that the imperatives of determining the impacts of the decade-long movement’s campaigns, advocacies, and programs. However, in consideration of the fast-changing contexts and major developments on many issues in which the movement is working, a thorough assessment has to be initiated in order to guide PMCJ’s future actions especially in the light of the movement’s next cycle of strategic program and plan of actions.