On Typhoon Bhopa and the Doha Conference
Typhoon Pablo and Doha: Ways Forward for the Philippines
By Akbayan (Citizens Action Party)
It is truly a sad day for Filipinos across the nation, as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council announced the devastation of typhoon Pablo to have resulted to a total number of 647 casualties, with another 1,842 people injured, and 780 missing.
The challenge of rebuilding what we have lost is not just a matter of reconstructing public works and restoring the livelihood of peoples and communities that were devastated by the strongest typhoon that hit the country this year.
The challenge confronting the government and the Filipino people is an environmental challenge of historical proportions; where the Philippines is caught between the stagnation of global Climate Change negotiations and the aggressive exploitation of our natural resources. On the one end of this challenge are powerful nations, from the developed to the developing ends of the world, such as the United States and China, who continue to refuse to recognize their responsibility to humanity to reduce carbon emissions that has driven their hyper-growth; on the other end, mining corporations, illegal miners and illegal loggers that continue to ravage our mountains and natural resources. It is these two immense problems that the government will have to address to protect the Filipino people from becoming casualties of the great climate crisis.
Curbing Mining and Illegal Logging
We know for a fact that the denudation of forest cover and reckless extraction of precious metals from the earth has long been responsible for landslides and devastating floods that is a common occurrence with typhoons.
The situation in Mindanao in the aftermath of typhoon Pablo is yet another indication of how the lives of poor Filipinos are sold to big corporate interests, and illegal businesses.
In order to ensure that the lives and livelihood of our constituents are protected from the worsening climate, it is incumbent upon governments, both on the local and national level, to go after the crooks and eliminate destructive industries.
A successful rebuilding of Mindanao relies on the government’s active role in reducing the proliferation of environmentally- destructive activities, at the same time that impoverished families are provided with livelihoods that will not compromise the environment and the welfare of our communities.
The Breakdown of Doha
But let me get to the very disappointing circumstances at the 18th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that ended last week; where Philippine lead negotiator, Commissioner Naderev “Yeb” Saño, said, “The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people… Please, let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to find the will to take responsibility for the future we want.”
At one point in his speech, Commissioner Saño broke down, but the standing ovation that Commissioner Saño received after his brief, but very heartrending intervention at the plenary showed the Philippine delegation’s valiant representation of not only the people of the Philippines, but peoples across the developing world. We would like to express our congratulations to Commissioner Saño, who ranked second among the top ten negotiators in the climate talks in his effort to push for a meaningful second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. We would also like to congratulate the Philippine delegation headed by Climate Change Commissioner Lucille Sering for rising to the occasion and serving as the voice of peoples across developing countries who are often at the mercy of climate-related tragedies. We are proud of all the Philippine delegates, be they form government or from civil society, who stood at the forefront of negotiations on climate finance, adaptation and technology transfer.
Our negotiators had every reason to work hard in the climate talks. The Global Climate Risk Index for 2010 included the Philippines as one of the top 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change. The Philippine delegation knew that they were negotiating at a time when the country was preparing, and later on struggling to cope with the devastating impacts of Typhoon Pablo.
However, it is unfortunate that climate disasters, such as those wreaked by Typhoon Pablo, are never enough to compel other Parties of the UNFCCC to commit to addressing the global climate problem. The Doha meeting resulted in the extension of the Kyoto Protocol from 2013 to 2020, but failed to address the more crucial question of whether or not major carbon emitters will undertake mandatory greenhouse gas emission reduction at a level dictated by science to avert catastrophic climate change. It failed to move developed countries to actually put in resources in the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries adapt to climate change and cope with climate related disasters.
Post-Doha, the Way Forward
The urgency and magnitude of the climate problem demands a shift in the way we view things. While it is true that Annex 1 countries, developed nations such as the United States, on account of their historical emission, should take the lead in undertaking mandatory emission reduction, we can no longer be blind to the fact that big emerging economies are now part, and substantially contributing, to the climate problem. Akbayan believes that any global deal in order to be effective in addressing the problem requires an agreement between the world’s two biggest carbon emitters, United States and China, to agree to mutually undertake deep cuts in carbon emissions.
At the national level, we must begin to undertake national action to reduce our vulnerability to climate change. It is high time that we begin to seriously implement policies that will protect and safeguard our natural ecosystems. It is high time that we begin to protect and nurture once again our forests and other natural resources that can help us cope with the negative impacts of climate change.
The Filipino people cannot live in a perpetual state of national emergency, where typhoon after typhoon will wipe out entire communities and leave the people in deeper poverty. We in Congress must do our part.
As Commissioner Saño said in the Doha plenary, “if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?"
To ensuring that our people have a fighting chance against the ravages of climate change, we must protect our natural resources. More importantly, we must join our voices with peoples across the world who demand that big polluters, whether it is the United States of America, or leading developing country carbon emitters countries like China and India, to make drastic reductions to their emissions and make their required contributions to the Global Climate Fund that set up to protect the communities in the developing world from the ravages of climate change that their drive for hyper-growth and profit has created.
Privilege Speech of Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello
10 December 2012
On Typhoon Pablo
By Party of the Laboring Masses (PLM)
The Party of the Laboring Masses (PLM) extends full sympathy to the victims of Typhoon Pablo: to the families of those killed and missing, and to the millions suffering from the destruction of their homes and crops and those still waiting for relief. PLM demands answers to serious questions raised by the government’s response to the catastrophe.
These include why, despite the authorities warning of the impending disaster in advance, no concrete evacuation plans were in place; evasiveness about the death toll; delays in getting food and other supplies to survivors and diversion of resources to prevent small-scale looting by desperate survivors rather than providing food.
That both the death toll and the number reported missing have continued to rise days after the typhoon had passed indicates that the government’s response focused more on political spin than life-saving preparations. Pagasa gave warning well in advance. But the government seemed to think it was doing its duty by having President Noynoy Aquino appeared on TV to tell people they should evacuate. In many affected areas that was all. Geologist Mahar Lagmay said that while most people in the affected communities had been aware of the danger, they had not known where to go for safety.
PLM contrasts this response with disaster response in Cuba, which also lies in a cyclone-prone area, but where the UN International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction has noted far lower death tolls. This is achieved by adequate infrastructure, such as buildings and roads; institutionalised and well-resourced response systems, including the ability to activate shelters that are staffed with trained medical personnel; and the integration of hurricane training into the general education system. All of this reflects Cuba’s socialist system, where meeting human needs is prioritised.
We also condemn the large-scale looting of the Philippines by foreign logging and mining companies which contributed greatly to this tragedy. The government’s condemnation of illegal logging and small-scale gold mining ignores the real culprit. We call for a total ban on logging and mining in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, the areas hardest hit by the tragedy. These areas have been devastated by these operations for a long time, and further logging and mining will destroy what’s left of the ecology.
To start the process of rebuilding, we also call on the government to implement massive reforestation and develop sustainable crop agriculture that will provide food security for people in the damaged areas and elsewhere. It’s about time that the country deviates from plantation monoculture of export crops and large-scale mining.
Lastly, we find it ironic that the devastation in Mindanao came in the wake of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar which again failed to deal with increasing greenhouse emissions by the rich countries. The failed conference locked in the planet for another decade of unchecked gas emissions which bring devastating climate impacts.
While the United Nations has appealed for $65 million aid for the victims of Typhoon Pablo, we believe that we should not have to beg for charity from the rich nations. We hold the rich and imperialist states of the global North responsible and we demand reparations and climate justice.
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)
Statement of Asia Social Movements on Climate Change
This statement is by Asia Social Movements Assembly during the World Social Forum on Migrations, Manila, Philippines
We have seen climate change related phenomena with intensity never seen before, like Hurricane Sandy, in many parts of the world in the past year. We no longer have the luxury of time as incidents of increasingly severe storms, floods, droughts, disruption of water cycles and other similar events are becoming the “new normal” for many countries. It is also becoming apparent that climate change is instigating more forced migration, and will create more climate refugees. An estimated 200 million people could be displaced by climate change by 2050. In 2010 alone, it was estimated that more than 30 million people were forcibly displaced by environmental and weather-related disasters across Asia and this number will continue to rise. Climate change has also been wreaking havoc on crops and farmlands, worsening the already growing food crisis and pushing even more people into hunger.
And yet, despite the increasing devastation wreaked by climate change on farmlands, livelihoods, and homes, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations are moving backwards instead of moving closer to a global agreement that will stabilize and cut greenhouse gas emissions. The premise of the climate negotiations has always been based on the principle that developed countries need to live up to their historical responsibility and yet from Cancun to Durban to Qatar, negotiations have instead focused on how developed countries can escape their previous commitments. Now, with the current proposals on the table, not only are developed countries going to be able escape commitments by watering obligations down to voluntary pledges but they will also be able to create more carbon markets and loopholes in order to not take any action at all. Estimates from a study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have calculated that even without all the loopholes, these current pledges will lead to an increase in the temperature of up to 5 degrees centigrade.
It is not too late nor is it impossible to arrest this march towards climate chaos. We know what needs to be done:
First, science has been clear that a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions is the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced from oil, gas and coal use. According to the International Energy Agency, two-thirds of the known reserves of the world’s coal, oil and gas should remain underground to have a 50% chance of staying below the 2 degrees centigrade limit. Therefore, if we want a 75% chance, we have to leave 80% of these oil, gas and coal reserves under the soil.
Second, the United States, as the main historical emitter, has to urgently drastically reduce its emissions more than everyone else. All developed countries called Annex 1 parties in the UN climate negotiations should urgently make drastically deep cuts, until 2020, at least 40 to 50% of their emissions based on 1990 levels. These commitments should be translated into concrete targets in coal, oil and gas usage per year, without using loopholes, offsets or carbon markets.
Third, the right to development should be not be interpreted as the right to continue polluting and follow the dirty development path of the industrialized countries. The right to development should be understood as the obligation of states to guarantee the basic rights and needs of the population and their right to live a life in harmony with nature.
In this light, China, Brazil, South Africa, India and other emerging economies should also have targets for emission reductions as they are fast becoming the big emitters of greenhouse gases. These binding targets should be lower than the targets of Annex 1 countries, following the principles of historical and common but differentiated responsibility.
Fourth, ending subsidies to oil, coal and gas companies and limiting their use are a very important step forward but not enough. We also need to block the advancement of all kinds of false solutions that can equally wreck nature and negatively impact the livelihoods of people that depend on a healthy environment like: agrofuels, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), synthetic biology, geo-engineering, nuclear power, resource grabs by big corporations and the green economy.
If we want to have a future on this planet, we need real solutions. We need to move beyond the all-dominating, profit-driven and unsustainable capitalist system that exploits people and ruins ecosystems. If we are to have genuine progress in the fight against climate change, social movements from around the world will have to reclaim the power and momentum in this struggle. Grassroots mobilizations against mining, coal plants, fracking, tar sands, big dams, land grabbing, water privatization, agrofuels, GMOs, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) are already showing the way. We need to strengthen these struggles and to connect the urgent demands of the people for food, water, health, energy, employment, rights and access with the struggles against climate change, financial speculation, land grabbing, neoliberal free trade and investment agreements, impunity of transnational corporations (TNCs), criminalization of migrants and refugees, patriarchy and violence against women, austerity measures and social security cuts.
We also need a collective and gradual transformation from the fossil fuel-addicted system of consumption and production towards a low carbon society. This also requires a transformation of the unsustainable capitalist system. Social movements already have many of these transformative proposals and solutions in their hands. Alternatives like food sovereignty, agro-ecology and several others are already being practiced and further developed. If we are to harmoniously co-exist with Nature, we need to abandon the anthropocentric vision of capitalism and recognize that we are only one component of nature and that in order to live a healthy life we need to respect the vital cycles, the integrity, the interdependence of nature by recognizing and upholding the rights of Mother Earth.
Humanity and Nature are standing at a precipice. But it is not too late. We know what needs to be done, and if we do it together, we can change the system.
November 28, 2012, Manila, Philippines
Building and Wood Workers’ International – Asia Pacific (BWI Asia Pacific)
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW AP)
EU-ASEAN FTA Network
Focus on the Global South
Global Network Asia
International Domestic Workers’ Network (IDWN)
La Via Campesina
Migrant Forum in Asia
RESPECT Network –Europe
Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL-SENTRO)
All Nepal’s Peasants’ Federation
Aniban ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA)
Alyansa ng Kabataang Mindanao para sa Kapayapaan (AKMK)
Associated Labor Unions (ALU-TUCP)
Bangladesh Krishok Federation
Bangladesh Kishani Sabha
Basic Education Sector Teachers Federation (BESTFED)-PSLINK
Bhartiya Kisan Union, BKU, India
Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers
Confederation of Labor and Allied Social Services (CLASS-TUCP)
Development through Active Networking Foundation (DAWN)
Federation of Free Workers (FFW)
Forum Komunikasi Buruh Perkebunan Sumatera Utara
FSPMI (Federation of Indonesia Metal Workers Union)
Greenresearch Environmental Research Group
Iligan Survivors Movement (ISM)
Indonesia Fisherfolk Union / Serikat Nelayan Indonesia (SNI)
Indonesian Political Economy Association (AEPI)
Kapisanan ng Maralitang Obrero (KAMAO-SENTRO)
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, India
KILOS KA, Mindanao
Koalisi Anti Utang (Anti-Debt Coalition) Indonesia
KRuHA-Indonesia (People’s coalition for the right to water)
KSPI (Confederation of Indonesia Trade Union)
Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN)
Liga ng Makabagong Kabataan (LMK)
Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM)
MONLAR, Sri Lanka
National Confederation of Transportworkers’ Union (NCTU-SENTRO)
National Union of Workers’ in Hotel Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN-SENTRO)
Network for Transformative Social Protection in Asia
Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)
Philippine Airline Employees’ Association (PALEA)
Philippine Independent Public Sector Employees Association (PIPSEA-SENTRO)
Philippine Metalworkers’ Alliance (PMA-Sentro)
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM)
Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK)
Ranaw Disaster Response and Rehabilitation Assistance Center (RDRRAC)
Serikat Petani Indonesia
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (SICCFM)
Suluh Muda Indonesia (SMI Sumut)
Sustainable Alternatives for the Advancement of Mindanao (SALAM)
TRUSTED Migrants – The Netherlands
Workers’ Solidarity Network (WSN-SENTRO)
World March of Women Pilipinas
Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE)