Filipino youth urge global leaders to deliver on climate promises

Pauline Macaraeg

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Filipino youth urge global leaders to deliver on climate promises

PROTEST. Environmental and civil society groups march in Quezon City to demand freedom from climate injustice on November 6, 2021.

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Their core message is clear: The ongoing climate negotiations in Glasgow are dangerously following previous patterns where pledges were big but actions were lacking

Filipino youth advocates urged global leaders to deliver on their promises regarding the climate and the environment amid the ongoing United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference or COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

On Saturday, November 6, the Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP) livestreamed the program “#KliMalaya: Fight For Freedom From Climate Injustice” – the online counterpart of the protest march that took place simultaneously in Quezon City.

The two-hour online event featured messages of support, performances, and calls to action from its various partner organizations and individuals mostly composed of the Filipino youth.

Their core message was clear: The ongoing climate negotiations in Glasgow are dangerously following previous patterns where the pledges were big but actions were lacking. Global leaders, particularly those from developed nations, should take action and deliver on their commitments and promises to address the growing climate crisis in the world.

The program included a Twitter rally, where participants were urged to tweet using the event’s official hashtags. The hashtags #KliMalaya and #WorldClimateMarch landed on the Philippines trends at 5th and 7th places, respectively, by the end of the program at 5 pm.

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Holding companies, governments to account

It was reported in 2017 that only 100 corporations are responsible for over 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Many of these companies have significant footprints in the Philippines.

“From the years passed, history has proven how the current capitalist setup has threatened our planet in different aspects,” said Jonas Angelo Abadilla, chairperson of the University of the Philippines Diliman student council.

“Let us demand big corporations and our national government to fight for a nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented environmental policies…. Let us continue to change the system, not the climate,” he said.

Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago also pointed out that the pandemic has revealed the failures of the government to prioritize the environment and people over big businesses.

“COVID-19 has revealed the failure and fragility of our current economic system, which prioritizes business interest over the well-being of people and the environment. It has deepened inequality and has thus far failed to protect the most vulnerable. Clearly, a change is needed. We need to act now,” Elago said.

In August, the UN climate panel released a report detailing the “irreversible” climate impact caused by human activities. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged an immediate end to destructive coal and fossil fuels.

“Climate change is man-made. And it can be stopped by us, as well, with the right policies and actions,” said Adem Inovejas, founder of environmental conservation organization Project Blue Ilocos.

In August, Filipino business groups also urged the government to immediately act on the issue of climate change.

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Protecting environmental defenders

Representatives of the youth groups also highlighted the dangers faced by environmental defenders in the country, where many are being threatened and killed for fighting for the environment.

In Southeast Asia, the Philippines remains the deadliest country for land defenders, according to environmental watchdog Global Witness. Globally, the Philippines ranks third.

“Our seas are rising, and so are we,” said Ann and Billie Dumaliang, Filipino conservationists and sisters behind the Masungi Georeserve Foundation. “Tinatawagan natin ang ating mga global leaders na mangunguna sa pagprotekta hindi lamang ng ating mga wild spaces, pati na rin ng ating mga taong nangangalaga rito.”

(We call on our global leaders to be the first in line to protect not only our wild spaces but also the people who take care of them.)

The Masungi Georeserve Foundation has struggled to deal with attacks on their forest rangers on top of illegal logging and quarrying.

The #KliMalaya event was led by environmental and civil society groups Panatang Luntian Coalition, Southern Peoples’ Action on COP26, and Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines. The on-ground march in Quezon City is part of the World Climate March by Oxfam International. –

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Pauline Macaraeg

Pauline Macaraeg is digital forensics researcher for Rappler. She started as a fact checker and researcher in 2019, before becoming part of Rappler's Digital Forensics Team. She writes about the developing digital landscape, as well as the spread and impact of disinformation and harmful online content. When she's not working, you can find her listening to podcasts or K-pop bops.