ALTHOUGH the Philippines is considered a minor contributor to global carbon emissions, it is one of the most susceptible countries to climate change as shown by frequent calamities in the past.

The issue of climate justice prompted a national inquiry on 47 private companies bearing top carbon emitters, eight of which are operated in the country. These are collectively known as the “Carbon Majors.”

“Climate justice means that the climate debt must be settled—it acts on both responsibility and accountability. It is also a call [for] major carbon emitters to reinvest in renewable and sustainable energy,” Rodne Galicha, a climate change advocate from the University, told the Varsitarian.

Renewable and sustainable energy sources can generate electricity without producing pollutant and they include wind power through wind turbines, solar power, geothermal energy which uses stream and heated water, and hydrothermal energy which uses flowing water to run turbines.

In December 2017, the Commission on Human Rights(CHR) held the “National Inquiry on the Impact of Climate Change on the Rights of the Filipino People and the Responsibility Therefor of the ‘Carbon Majors’” with a resolution to be released in 2019.

The CHR responded to a petition filed in September 2015 by typhoon survivors, farmers, and environmental groups versus carbon majors, which included the mining company BHP Billiton, and oil companies namely BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell, Suncor, and Total.

Galicha, the country manager of The Climate Reality Project Philippines, said stopping climate change is a “challenge” as it requires ceasing operations of coal-fired power plants and other producers of greenhouse gases.

“It is undeniable that these [extreme] climate events have been caused by more than 200 years of making our atmosphere a giant sewer for excessive [pollutants] which include carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels,” he said.

In November 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, struck the Philippines and caused the death of more than 6,200 people and damaged more than a million homes.

Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which can trap more than 93 percent of heat energy in the oceans, cancause ocean-
based storms like Yolanda. Higher ocean temperature can also trigger severe climate events.

“The impacts of extreme weather conditions due to climate change generally affect the very right to life of every Filipino. We are also seeing the effects [of climate change] on agriculture. Typhoon Pablo in 2012 caused over $210 million in crop damage,” he said.

In February 2016, the UN’s emergency aid coordination body said [nearly] 27,300 farmers in Mindanao were affected by drought.

Carbon pricing in the Philippines
Galicha said carbon pricing, or imposing tax on carbon-emitting sectors, could be one of the means for industry players in the country to invest more in climate-friendly businesses.

“Increase in coal excise taxes [is] a big step toward attaining higher ambitions to reduce carbon emissions while making big polluters pay.

We expect that the proceeds shall be utilized to respond to the needs of [the] most vulnerable communities affected by climate crisis,” he said.

Renewable energy players should maximize clean and indigenous sources as they could be practically cheaper in the long run; their cost quickly decreases, while the cost of fossil-fuel-based sources increase over time, he added.


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