On 9 August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its newest report on the science of the climate crisis.
The findings of the report are alarming, considering that the greenhouse gases (GHGs) that human activities have produced in two centuries alone have caused massive changes in the global climate that have not been seen in thousands of years. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have been the highest in two million years. Oceans are becoming warmer and more acidic. Lands continue to degrade and forests are burning. Sea levels are rising faster with every melting glacier and ice sheet. The report also highlights the key role of social drivers of vulnerability such as inequity and inequality to humanity’s risk to climate stressors.
Without drastic cuts in GHG emissions as soon as possible, our world would likely surpass 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming within 10 years, resulting in even more extreme climate impacts – sooner than previously expected. For vulnerable nations like the Philippines, that are already at the mercy of climate change hazards resulting from historical emissions, additional pressure from climate extremes fueled by current GhG emissions will challenge existing capacities to adapt to to climate change. We need to commit that our pursuit of development will not follow the pollutive pathways of high-income countries that caused this crisis in the first place.
This report could not have come at a more opportune time, as the calls for higher ambition and climate justice continue to grow stronger globally. Current pledges of all governments would only lead to a 1% reduction in emissions, falling way short of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a living preview of the scale of disruptions and losses that more extreme climate changes can inflict on countries, and lessons that governments, businesses, civil society groups, and communities can learn from to avoid any more disasters of this magnitude.
Given these findings, Aksyon Klima Pilipinas calls for the following asks and recommendations:
1) The newest IPCC report must be welcomed by the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to enhance evidence and science-based approaches in climate action;
2) The developed countries with the highest GHG emissions should increase and deliver their emissions reductions targets in their respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and pay their “climate debt” to vulnerable nations through the provision of means of implementation, such as climate finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building, in forms aligned with upholding climate justice to avert losses and damages to lives, livelihoods, ecosystems; and empowering developing countries to pursue low-emissions development strategies.
3) The Philippine government must finalize the country’s low greenhouse gas emission pathway towards achieving its NDC goal of reducing GHG emissions by 75% within the current decade, including the commitment to nature-based solutions, phaseout of coal-fired power plants and initiating a just transition to renewable energy that respects ecosystems integrity and does not displace the most vulnerable;
4) Global, national, and local climate and disaster governance must be inclusive of all sectors, especially for the marginalized and most vulnerable such as women and indigenous peoples, to strengthen climate resilience of peoples and ecosystems and enhance change adaptation and mitigation strategies for the 21st century; and
5) Climate governance at the domestic front must match the Philippines’s stances in the global negotiations. Among the priority issues include: averting and/or minimizing loss and damage; enhancing ecosystems integrity and resilience; aligning climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies with national sustainable development targets; and the avoidance of false solutions that hinder progress in climate action.
As much as we have experienced the brunt of the climate crisis, the worst could still be coming. We call for urgent, just, and effective climate action now!
(Global warming graph: World Meteorological Organization)