Green group calls on COP 25 leaders for justice in the wake of another climate catastrophe

PHOTO: Devastation caused by Typhoon Tisoy in Albay. Photo by Nino Luces, Reuters.

Following the onslaught of typhoon Kammuri, locally known as Tisoy, a climate and energy group reminded the global leaders gathering in Madrid this week for COP 25 of the urgency of ending coal and fossil fuels.

“Typhoon Kammuri is a timely, albeit sorrowful, reminder for world leaders that for the past quarter century, the conferences have been failing climate-vulnerable communities across the globe,” said Gerry Arances, Executive Director of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED).

“25 years of talks, pledges, and alarming scientific findings, yet here we are living in a world dominantly powered by fossil fuels. At 38%, dirty and costly coal alone composes a greater share than all non-fossil fuels combined,” said Arances.

“No amount of optimism would allow any Filipino to deny that the catastrophe we had just been through would most likely be repeated. The sad reality is that Filipinos who today are filing reports of missing loved ones, who are returning to their destroyed homes to see if there is anything left to save, who will once again be buried in debt so they could rebuild their lives — these people could be doing the same things next year,” he said.

As COP 25 focuses on discussing targets that will be set in 2020, five years after the Paris Agreement, Arances said that leaders should use it as a chance to ensure ambitions, not emissions, reach unprecedented heights.

“What we want is a chance for future generations to no longer have to go through these, and that can only happen if industrialized countries would stop looking for ways they can continue emitting pollutants while sitting in at climate talks, and would actually do their part through a concrete plan of action for net zero carbon energy sectors come 2030,” Arances stressed.

The group noted that developing countries should also be doing their part in addressing the climate crisis.

“In this year’s talks, developing countries such as the Philippines must demand justice for our people. Communities in the Philippines and the developing world are forced to battle stronger typhoons and more severe drought for as long as developed nations refuse to do the same against dirty fuels,” Arances said.

“But we must also ensure that we are walking our own talk,” he warned.

According to the group, the Philippines and other developing countries are among the biggest coal expansionists in the world.

“The long list of typhoons that leave our communities in pieces every year is not the only thing we have in common with our neighboring countries. 3 countries from Southeast Asia are among the top nations with the largest capacity of coal projects in the pipeline: Vietnam at 33,935 MW, Indonesia at 29,416 MW, and the Philippines at 12,014 MW.”

“As developing countries, we still have a chance to fuel our growth with clean energy from the abundant renewable sources that are naturally available to us,” said Arances, noting that it is also the duty of industrialized nations to support this. 

“No longer can we hide behind the mask of progress. If the development we claim to want is based on energy that causes Filipinos to lose their homes, livelihoods, and even lives every year through climate change-related disasters, then surely we must rethink that definition. Power that benefits the people and the economy without worsening climate change is only waiting to be tapped.”