An urgent demand from a Filipina especially in the light of the recent devastation caused by Yolanda.
In my country, the Philippines,December marks the onset of rainy season—a welcome departure from the torrid tropical heat of summer and high time for crop production, colder breezes during morning commutes, and indulgent frolics under the rain. That was not the case four years ago as this season unexpectedly brought about the tropical cyclone Ketsana, which devastated my country to an unprecedented state of calamity. This incident took 500 lives, displaced thousands from their homes, submerged upscale and poor communities in mud, and endangered the health of tens of thousands.
The following years were far less promising as the country was successively distraught with uncommonly powerful and destructive typhoons such as Typhoon Bopha in 2010, Tropical Storm Washi in 2011, and the seasonal southwest monsoon (locally known as Habagat) in August 2012. For the past four years, every rainy season produced stronger calamities, which consequently led to weeklong suspension of classes, slippery and damaged roads, and greater exposure to health risks. Not surprisingly, in 2013, the GermanWatch Climate Risk Index identified the Philippines as the fourth most vulnerable country to the damaging effects of climate change.
I am Alenz Avril De Torres and I am a Filipino student. I am writing because it is yet again June and I am haunted with the realization that this year and for the coming years, every rainy season will no longer be a pleasant favorite but rather a potentially irreversible nightmare.
The root of climate change and the solution to it is right in front of our faces that it baffles me why you remain unfazed with the adverse consequences of unabated emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). It has been scientifically proven that industrialized countries, comprising mostly of your countries, are the main source GHG over the last century yet poor and developing countries like my country absorb the backlash of your emissions. This unusual accumulation of emissions in the atmosphere has produced global increase in temperature, resulting in erratic and abnormal weather that occurs frequently in third world countries such as the Philippines, which contribute less than 1% to global GHG emission. The obvious and logical solution is to radically cut down GHG emissions and repair countries damaged, and continuously damaged, by the accelerating changes in climate. Simply put, cut and be just.
Just last month, scientific agencies revealed that the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have already reached 400 parts per million (ppm), the highest level in human history and 50 ppm higher than the amount our atmosphere can safely absorb. If this will be the state of affairs in the next decade, then humanity is bound to perish. Thus, we call on you to be responsible and accountable for your historical contribution to Earth’s damage. A first, albeit huge, step that you should take is to ratify and adhere to the second commitment period for 2013 to 2020 of the Kyoto Protocol and to divest from band-aid and gibberish solutions such as Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) and Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradations (REDDs). If we are to stabilize the Earth’s temperature to a threshold of until 1.5 degrees Celsius, a goal set by climate scientists and supported by 112 countries, then there should be no space for your “flexibility” mechanism mumbo jumbos, where carbon credits are traded and bought. Each and every country must play their role for the reversal of climate change and to make the Earth a livable place for all, and your role is to cut GHG emissions.
Most of all, we call on you to be just. We are undoubtedly prejudiced by the socio-political and economic adjustments demanded of us to be able to adapt to climate changes given the minute amount of GHG emissions we have contributed. I think that it is cogent for us to demand that you, wealthy countries, pay your climate debt, and pay reparation to poor countries. As nationals from the Global South, we demand that you no longer put off owning up to your responsibility to take lead in solving the climate problem. We cannot, and most importantly, should not bear the brunt of climate change alone; reduced to being dispensable and second-class citizens of the Earth.
Amid the gloom from looming rain clouds, numerous climate justice campaigns will be launched this month in the Philippines. I hope that in these efforts to raise the issue of climate justice within the discourse of global democracy, you show cooperation and finally share the same activism with us. I invite you to completely leave self-serving interests and to join us in our defense of climate justice and promotion of a livable and sustainable Earth. I know that there are always reasons for hope and none for defeatism. I am optimistic that every June may still be the onset of a beautiful rainy season.
A young Filipina