Filipinos blast Trump for exiting of Paris climate deal, ignoring climate obligations

Hundreds of Filipino communities on the forefront of the climate crisis, as well as civil society organizations, banded together to assert the protection of human rights and the environment for present and future generations in a series of activities in light of World Environment Day.

Green Thumb Coalition (GTC) the widest network of local and national groups for the environment and the people in the Philippines, led hundreds of people as they organized a “green freedom space” in Timog Avenue Rotonda, where different organizations and individuals expressed their calls concerning the environment, the climate, and development.

“This World Environment Day, we enjoin the public in affirming their constitutional right to a healthful and balanced ecology and urge the government to fulfill this mandate and prioritize the welfare and livelihood of the Philippines in its policies,” said Norie Garcia, head of the GTC Secretariat.

After a motorcade parading the current status of the planet considering various issues affecting the people, the activity culminated in a mobilization in front of the Department of Envrionment and Natural Resources.

“We challenge the government to silence the doubts concerning the rejection of former DENR Sec. Gina Lopez by continuing the initiatives pursued by the Department, not just on mining, but also in other issues like curbing emissions, clean energy, waste management, protecting biodiversity and reforestation,” Garcia added.

US exit in Paris Agreement condemned by climate-affected communities
The group also criticized President Donald Trump for walking out of the Paris climate agreement as “a reassertion of America’s sovereignty,” saying that it is a blatant neglect of the United States’ historical responsibility in the climate crisis, owed to centuries of unbridled greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and its support for dirty energy and development policies across the globe.

Tacloban resident and survivor of Typhoon Yolanda (known internationally as Haiyan) Pascualito Ilagan of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice – Tacloban (PMCJ Tacloban) expressed frustration over the US’s exit from the climate accord, stressing that climate-vulnerable communities are not finished paying for the cost of the destruction of the climate, four years after one of the world’s strongest and deadliest typhoon hit the Philippines.

“We suffered death and destruction due to Yolanda, followed by poverty and displacement due to the failed rehabilitation efforts from the part of the government, now it seems that justice is still far away for the people devastated by Yolanda, as the primary culprits of this deadly climate are walking out from their responsibility,” said Ilagan.

“The US exit is unacceptable, as they are not finished delivering reparations for us and many others who have suffered from climate change,” Ilagan added.

“The backlash of the international community and world leaders after Trump’s announcement of their Paris exit is reflective of the fact that his decision runs contrary to the consensus on the climate and energy,” said Gerry Arances of the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED).

“Globally, the price of solar and wind energy technology have drastically gone down because of an upsurge of investment on renewables, and the shifting energy policies from coal by countries across the world, with the US even being responsible for a significant part of the 64 GW retirement of coal plants from the part of industrialized countries,” added Arances.

“This exit is a blatant denial of the reality of climate change, and will serve not even US citizens who also face widespread pollution and climate disasters in their country. This will only serve coal companies who feel threatened by decreasing investments and support for fossil fuels,” Arances concluded.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who has previously bashed the US and other developed countries for their historical role in contributing to the climate crisis, signed the Paris climate deal last March, giving in to the pressure from affected communities, civil society, and voices within the government.

Sanlakas Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa dared Pres. Duterte to condemn this move from the US Pres. Trump, who had previously praised him for his “unbelievable job on the drug problem” in the Philippines.

“If President Duterte is in fact on the side of his constituents in the issue of climate, we urge him to demand from the US to honor their obligations to the climate and the Philippines, who are still among the top five most climate-vulnerable countries,” Pedrosa said.

“By withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, the US has once again turned its back against its responsibility to the Filipino people. In doing so, Trump has signed a death warrant for vulnerable countries like ours who are at the receiving end of the rich countries’ unabated GHG emissions.” concluded Pedrosa.