Tag Archives: Conference of the Parties COP

Sentro echoes call for ‘zero carbon, zero poverty’ ahead of COP21

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ANDRES Bonifacio would have been a staunch environmentalist also if he were alive today, and would surely support the international labor movement’s twin and inseparable goals of “zero carbon, zero poverty” as well as the view that corporate “climate criminals” are the main culprits in the disastrous global warming.

This was aired by the members of the national labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) as they marched to Mendiola and held a rally near the Malacañang Palace today to celebrate the 152nd birth anniversary of Bonifacio and to air the people’s demands in the ongoing global climate summit in Paris, France.

Dubbed COP21 or the 21st annual meeting of the Conference of the Parties, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, it will be conducted from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 and thousands of delegates from the governments, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations (UN) agencies, civil society and nongovernment organizations (NGOs), and the private sector – read: corporations, including the world’s leading polluters of air, water and land – will attend in the many sessions of this very crucial gathering. President Aquino has already left for Paris yesterday.

Aside from about 25,000 official delegates, thousands more are expected to troop to Paris, especially from the civil society, including environmentalist groups and trade unions from different countries, to press for “climate justice,” which, Sentro said, seeks to really heal and protect the Earth and to effectively stop the unabated environmental abuse primarily perpetrated by global corporations and industrialized nations.

Reputable scientific studies show that while an increase in the natural discharge of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the main gas that causes the greenhouse effect, which traps the gases in the atmosphere and results to devastating climate warming – normally takes thousands of years, its manmade counterpart has caused unprecedented and tremendous increases in just 120 years.

In fact, “about half of human-caused CO2 emissions between 1750 and 2011 happened in the last 40 years” that was largely triggered both by the use of fossil fuel and by industrial processes, which, in turn, “made up of about 78 percent of the total increase in greenhouse gas emissions from 1970 to 2010,” a report revealed.

It added that this climate change has given rise to “the warmest 30-year period (in 1983 to 2012) in at least 1,400 years,” which is no longer surprising since humans – mostly due to their factories, mines, deforestation, cars, and other related activities and equipment – add about 4.3 billion tons or gigatons (GT) of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.

Thus, a Sentro paper stated that the COP21 will again fail, like the past climate summits – amid the intense lobbying and muscling in of corporate interests and the backing of the rich countries’ governments – if a business as usual scenario prevails, which will further surge CO2 emissions “from 30 GT in 2010 to 43.3 GT in 2035, which is consistent with a catastrophic increase in average global temperature of six degrees Celsius, at least.”

This is very alarming since the generally accepted threshold for global warming is 2 degrees Celsius, but has skyrocketed since the 1950s only, the report added.

Global warming, for instance, is causing typhoons that are stronger, more frequent and with longer duration; weather extremes from long dry periods or droughts (El Niño) to seasons of unusual heavy rains (La Niña); dramatic melting of ice glaciers; severe upsurge of sea levels; immense flooding; monstrous hurricanes, and other never before seen natural calamities, which could easily surpass the ferocity and extent of supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) that battered central Philippines in 2013.

Sentro, however, stressed that addressing climate change requires nothing less than radically changing the prevailing socioeconomic system, which enriches and empowers only the few and which disregards the environment amid their greed to wantonly exploit the riches of the planet.

Social activists, including environmentalists and trade unionists, said that aside from getting rid of the capitalist and neoliberal system, the world needs to institute “energy democracy” and “climate jobs” that would substantially lessen the carbon footprint and effectively tackle the worsening climate change.

Energy democracy, Sentro explains, means “an emergency transition to renewable energy by reclaiming public control over energy systems,” while climate jobs pertain to millions of employment opportunities that are both readily available and feasible and “that can be generated by shifting to a low carbon economy,” including using and developing electric public utility vehicles (PUVs), renewable energy generation and distribution (solar, hydro, wind, etc.), reforestation, coastal and riverine area rehabilitation, construction of climate resilient housing, and many others.

The urgency and life and death relevance of truly addressing the climate problem is even acknowledged by Pope Francis himself in his recent “Laudato si” encyclical, Sentro added, and it echoed a statement by a global trade union leader that there are “no jobs on a dead planet.”

Social activists have emphasized that the Paris summit “can be an important moment to say ‘No’ to the corporate agenda and the false solutions it entails,” adding that “setting a global carbon price and leaving it to the ‘market’” is not the answer – as history and experience have proven that the so-called market economy “is not up to the challenge and that what’s needed is less market and more democracy.”

Labor groups push for ‘just transition’ in March for Climate Justice

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Echoing the view of global trade unions that a shift to lower carbon economy is not just necessary but inevitable to address the worsening climate crisis, the coalition of labor groups Nagkaisa marched with multisectoral groups in the March for Climate Justice held in Quezon City this morning.

The group denounces corporate greed for spawning both a humanitarian and environmental crisis as manifested in the intensification of exploitative working conditions and the acceleration of climate change.

“When corporations rule under the framework of unlimited greed, workers endure the worst kind of exploitation. And when climate crisis worsened as tons of carbon are emitted into the atmosphere by oil and energy companies, mining and other hard industries, everyone suffers the brunt most particularly the poor people living in most vulnerable countries like the Philippines,” said Nagkaisa in a statement.

The group pointed out that while the country is less in carbon emission, her position of vulnerability can generate a powerful voice for demanding climate justice during negotiations.

“Unfortunately our government tailgated weakly behind the US position of simply having Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) process instead of playing hardball in pressing a return to binding cuts based on science and common but differential responsibility and which will limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” lamented Nagkaisa.

The group said that even with INDC process and actual submissions, the UNEP still anticipates a 4-6 degrees Celsius, rendering the COP ineffective.

Workers were also apprehensive of the fact that while governments are active in climate negotiations, the next one in Paris next week, most of them didn’t have a clear framework on how to fine-tune this transition to lower carbon economy in a manner acceptable to the people.

Nagkaisa is pushing the framework for a ‘just transition’ which promotes social justice and employment, requires active government intervention, and demands proportionate responsibility from all stakeholders, including business.

“The Philippines, for instance, has not explicitly declared a timeline to when fossil-fuelled power plants are finally phased out so that the transition is clearly plotted in favour of renewable energy and the creation of climate jobs,” the group said.

The coalition believes further that thousands of climate jobs can be created in the country in the shift to renewable energy, disaster response and building climate resilient communities that includes resettlement in climate-proof buildings and housing projects, as well as the greening of mass transport system.

“Funding is main requirement for this shift. In climate negotiations, the rich industrial nations must be made responsible in funding the transition of most vulnerable nations,” the group added.

Meanwhile, Nagkaisa said transition policies should not, in any way, transgress into the framework of decent work since regular job and social security help build the resiliency of many people against the wrath of Mother Nature.