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The Philippines: Prospects in pursuing climate justice, eradicating poverty and inequality: Page 2 of 2

Posted on 4 September 2019

import-oriented policies and programs; while agricultural workers remain landless and struggle againstlandlord monopoly, and fishermen and aquaculture workers compete against industrial-scale fishers. Water services in the country are privatized and, thus, are costly or inaccessible to many Filipinos.

Ecological and environmental sustainability are unattainable with continuous liberalization of environmental policies that urge exploitation of our natural resources.Climate-friendly industries and services are largely corporatized; and innovations do not cater to the needs of vulnerable communities. There are no commitments to shift to sustainable energy, as industries are still reliant on coal-fired power plants with 17 existent power plants, and 24 more projected. While there is an attempt to mainstream discourse on climate change, resources are inadequate to implement and facilitate systematic and extensive climate change education.

Deadliest country for environmental defenders

Overall, the poor who are largely dependent on climate-sensitive industries like farming and fishing have limited access to basic social services and disaster response, and simultaneously, are the most vulnerable to climate change. Moreover, liberalized and profit-oriented policies that deprive people of social services exacerbate the negative impacts of climate change.

Environmental defenders and development workers who openly criticize and mobilize people against liberalized environmental policies and large-scale destructive projects risk their lives. According to the 2018 Global Witness Report, the Philippines is the deadliest country in the world for environmental defenders with 30 activists killed in the same year.

Ways forward: Rethinking assumptions

The government must reassess its pledge to reduce GHG emissions to a nationally determined contribution (NDC) of 70% below “business-as-usual” (BAU),given that the Philippines has a minimal contribution of 0.39% to the global GHG emissions (as of 2015). Reducing GHG emissions to NDC of 70% is not a viable climate change mitigation strategy, as this will negatively impactthe country’s development.

Instead, the government should redirect its resources and fortify its commitment to the protection and conservation of the country’s natural resources as its major contribution in climate change mitigation.It should also hold developed countries accountable for their historical GHG emissions and to challenge and oppose neoliberal development policies that compromise prospects of sustainable development. A step towards climate justice is putting pressure on developed countries to change their BAU pathway as they are foremost responsible for climate change.

The government should also review political policies and programs that compound the exploitation of the country’s natural resources and displace and heighten the vulnerability of affected communities. Economic and environmental policies and programs must be transformed to address the needs of the people and drive national development. The efforts and strides of people’s organizations and civil society organizations must also be recognized and engaged by the government as steps to eradicate poverty and inequality to be able towork towards sustainable development.  ###

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