Leaving no one behind: Genuine climate justice for COP27 – CPDG

November 6, 2022

COP 27; Photo from Laudato Si Movement

The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) will be held from November 6-18 in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh. It will be attended by Heads of State, ministers, climate activists, and civil society organisations (CSOs) amid heightened calls to hold industrial capitalist countries accountable for their colossal historical emission of greenhouse gases. 

Global leaders will universally speak about the urgency of action but much more important are clear and immediate commitments to act. These have been lacking for so long now after so many conferences already.

The COP27 will talk about the climate emergency and growing energy crisis. It will take up reducing greenhouse gas concentrations, building resilience, and adapting to the effects of climate change (i.e., extreme weather events and disastrous typhoons) as well as ensuring implementation of climate action in developing countries and improving unity among countries to deliver on the landmark Paris Agreement. Among key areas, it will also focus on innovation, clean technologies, the centrality of water and agriculture to the climate crisis, and the role of science in decarbonization effects, biodiversity loss, energy transition, and finance.

The Convention is pivotal because the effects of climate change are already exceeding the adaptation limits of nations and communities – particularly the low-income, climate-vulnerable countries of the global South which lack the safety nets and resources to deal with climate change compared to the rich countries.

The ecological and climate crisis is linked to the long-term socioeconomic crisis in many ways. There are the environmentally harmful projects and the persistent reliance on fossil fuels and non-renewable energy sources. There is the lack of funding for forecasting and warning programs and for rehabilitation and protection. There are also the unrelenting attacks on environmental defenders opposing the profit- and export-oriented framework of natural resource utilisation. This economic framework impoverishes poorer countries, such as the Philippines, while serving narrow corporate interests.

The advanced industrial powers who have contributed the most to climate change have to make much bigger and more credible commitments – to reduce their emissions, to support underdeveloped countries with substantial climate finance, and real green technological transfer for climate mitigation and adaptation.

The Philippine government can even take the moral high ground and set an example by taking meaningful climate action on its own with substantial changes in its environmentally destructive economic strategies. 

As COP27 starts, CPDG re-echoes the priority joint recommendations on the environment and right to development that various stakeholders contributed for the United Nations’ 4th cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines human rights situation on November 14, 2022. These are decisive measures the government can take to address the roots of climate vulnerability:

  1. Impose an emergency moratorium on climate risk projects that destroy vital ecosystems and displace vulnerable communities.
  2. Stop mining, quarrying and logging operations in protected areas, ancestral lands and ancestral domains, and hold accountable the government officials that allowed these in violation of state processes in project approvals, consultation and environmental risks assessments.
  3. Take steps towards a just and steady transition from dirty to clean energy sources.
  4. Ensure that “green” technological solutions respect human rights and do not indiscriminately displace farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, and urban poor from their communities or livelihoods.
  5. Implement a green public mass transportation system program with due consideration of those displaced in the transition from the current privatized set-up; review the jeepney phaseout scheme which has adversely affected hundreds of thousands of small operators/drivers.
  6. Support and encourage local/community and indigenous practices, actions and initiatives on climate change, biodiversity, sustainable utilization of resources, and environmental protection.
  7. Pass the resolution on the People’s Green New Deal and the bills on Environment Defense, Rights of Nature, People’s Mining, National Land Use, Indigenous Communities Conserved Territories and Areas, and Sustainable Forest Management Act filed in Congress.

CPDG particularly calls for urgent passage of the People’s Green New Deal (PGND) legislation. Crafted by technical experts and various CSOs led by the Panatang Luntian Coalition, the PGND asserts that the country’s ecological and climate crisis and its chronic socio-economic crisis are interconnected. The major issues include: environmentally destructive projects; over-reliance on fossil fuels and non-renewable energy sources; lack of forecasting and warning programs; lack of rehabilitation and protection of environment and affected communities; continuing attacks on environmental defenders; and a profit and export-oriented framework of natural resource utilisation. These serve narrow private business interests whose environmentally destructive activities negatively impact and hurt poor and vulnerable Filipinos the most.

The PGND seeks to address the massive losses and damages accumulated over decades of environmentally-destructive activities led by major carbon producers and emitters. It pushes alternatives such as: community-based waste management; just transition towards sustainable solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy; green spaces and commuter-centric transportation; environmental defence and climate justice; and real biodiversity and environmental conservation. 

It directly tackles the economic downturn brought by COVID-19 and the crises it intensified with just recovery and a view towards sustainable national industrialization. The PGND will ensure development where the people, especially those marginalised for so long, are not left behind. #eof#