Climate activist calls on Marcos to ‘lead by example’

September 23, 2022

An international youth climate justice activist urged Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to “propel into concrete actions” his climate stance during the UN General Assembly (UNGA) this week.

“We want to see government policies and laws that will protect vulnerable communities from the impacts of climate crisis in the Philippines,” said Marinel Ubaldo, International Youth Engagements advisor of Living Laudato Si Philippines.

Ubaldo, who is taking her Master’s degree in Environmental Management at Duke University in North Carolina was in New York City for the annual Climate Week, which coincided with the UNGA.

“Climate justice is part of our basic human rights,” she said.

“We expect the president to lead the nation in seeking accountability for the carbon debt of developed countries as we call on the Philippine government to uphold human rights,” said Ubaldo.

During his speech at the 77th session of the UNGA on Wednesday, September 21, Marcos urged other nations to address climate change with a “united effort.”

“The effects of climate change are uneven and reflect a historical injustice: Those who are least responsible suffer the most,” said Marcos.

The president said the country is a net carbon sink, which absorbs more carbon dioxide than the amount it emits.

“And yet, we are the fourth most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change,” he said.

Climate activists across the globe have been demanding for funds to help victims of loss and damage in developing countries due to the climate crisis.

Ubaldo, a survivor of super typhoon Haiyan, said Marcos must “take the lead in seeking climate justice” for the Philippines’ most vulnerable communities.

“The President must also ensure that justice and accountability are achieved by Filipinos,” she said, adding that Marcos “must remain open to addressing the country’s historical injustice.”

Earlier, pro-environment groups challenged Marcos to abandon environmentally destructive projects and protect environmental defenders from state-sponsored attacks.

“While Marcos Jr. included climate change in his central message, this is mere posturing as he plans on expanding the fossil-based energy industry in the Philippines,” said Jon Bonifacio of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.

Lia Torres, executive director of Center for Environmental Concerns, said the Marcos administration’s push for more large-scale mining projects “will only worsen the rapid degradation of our forests, rivers, and seas.”

“Big mining is a major factor in the massive displacement of indigenous people and rural communities. This will augur more disaster for mineral-rich forestlands and the rural poor communities of mostly indigenous peoples,” said Torres.

In June, Kalikasan reported a 1,773 percent “spike in attacks against environmental defenders.”

Clemente Bautista, International Network Officer of the group, said amid the raging climate crisis, “the current regime persists in silencing and vilifying environmental defenders.”

The groups reiterated their call for the UN to launch an independent probe into alleged widespread harassment, murders, and other violations of the rights of environmental defenders in the country.

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