The Philippines is urged to intensify its efforts to fight climate change after nearly 200 countries clinched a major deal that called for more ambition and action, but fell short of providing vulnerable nations funds to help them adapt to and recoup damages from climate-related impacts.
Two weeks of painful negotiations in the cold and damp Scottish city resulted in the Glasgow Climate Pact, which called on countries to phase down reliance on unabated coal power and recognized loss and damage suffered by vulnerable nations.
The deal also called on countries to boost their commitments to slash emissions of planet-heating gases by the end of next year and urged wealthy nations to “at least double” their funding to help vulnerable communities bolster their defenses against climate change.
But observers and activists said the achievements in Glasgow were not enough to avert dangerous rises in global temperatures.
Thus, groups such as Greenpeace Philippines, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) and Aksyon Klima Pilipinas called on the Philippine government to take bolder action to combat climate change at home.
The following are their demands:
Hold fossil fuel companies accountable
Greenpeace said the Philippines, as one of the countries most vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change, should be at the forefront of the call for climate justice.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, who led the country’s delegation to the climate talks, pushed for climate justice and climate finance in speeches delivered at COP26.
Ensure rapid transition to renewable energy
Greenpeace also urged the Philippines to phase out, not phase down, coal energy and transition to renewable energy.
The Philippines was one of the countries that committed to move away from coal energy in a statement issued during COP26. But Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who signed on behalf of the government, endorsed only one clause: to "rapidly scale up the deployment of clean power generation."
Cusi partially committed to phasing out coal by 2040 and making a just transition away from coal and expanding energy access for all. He did not pledge to end investment in new coal power generation domestically and internationally despite last year’s moratorium.
Coal power accounts for 54.6% of the country’s energy mix.
For ICSC, the needs of the Philippines goes way beyond the energy transition.
"Foremost is the priority of resilience, which when prioritized will actually speed up the transition to a more stable, affordable, reliable, and resilient power sector," ICSC associate for climate policy Denise Fontanilla said.
Boost climate plans
The government committed to slash its greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 to 2030 by 75%. However, a bulk of this commitment is conditional on international funding.
The Glasgow Climate Pact called on parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to make more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions by the end of 2022. Previously, nations were asked to submit new pledges every five years.
Greenpeace also called for a "coherent, national-level solution to the climate crisis."
"The government needs to make this the central policy of the state as Filipinos' lives are at stake as trajectory shows that we will overshoot the 1.5°C red line," it said.
Strengthen coordination with civil society
Aksyon Klima lamented the failure of the country’s delegation to engage meaningfully with civil society organizations who attended the summit in Glasgow.
The Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of Climate Change Act of 2009 states the "negotiating positions of the Philippines in the international climate change negotiations shall be developed through a multi-stakeholder and inter-agency process facilitated by the [Climate Change Commission]."
"We state with hope our interest to meaningfully engage with the Philippine government in carrying the momentum from COP26 and translating it to effective climate change adaptation and mitigation programs at the national and local levels," Aksyon Klima lead convenor Rodne Galicha said.
From words to solutions
"Until these words are turned into urgent, just, inclusive and effective solutions, we have earned the right to be wary of these new promises," he said.
Galicha added that the longer "we delay meaningful climate action" will lead to continued suffering of vulnerable communities.
Lawyer Vicente Yu, a negotiator for G77 and China group of developing countries, said the hope for better future does not lie in the outcomes of negotiations like COP26.
"That hope lies in what we do back home and together in our communities, in our countries, in the international level."
This story was produced as part of the 2021 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.
Banner image: Survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan hold a demonstration inside the Scottish Event Campus, the venue of COP26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. / Credit: Gaea Katreena Cabico