5 April 2022
On 4 April, Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the last part of its Sixth Assessment Report, highlighting the urgency of mitigation in addressing the climate crisis, the gravest existential threat to current and future generations.
The findings of this landmark assessment indicate two important insights. First, despite decades of knowledge about the role of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted from burning them in global warming and climate change, global trends continue the wrong way. Global GHG pollution is still increasing across all sectors, with 42% of all emissions produced in just the most recent three decades.
Second, while several indicators show mitigation strategies are being implemented and effective to a certain degree, their collective impacts are far from reversing trends on global warming and climate change. Per the report, if the current pledges of all nations under their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) are successfully implemented, it would still result in 2.8°C of global warming. This is nearly double the target under the Paris Agreement of 1.5°C, considered as a point that when exceeded makes climate change impacts difficult to avoid, if not becoming irreversible.
Third, drastic emissions reductions must be taken to urgently slow down global warming and avoid more catastrophic impacts on billions of people worldwide. To have a chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C, the world must achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by the 2050s. This includes virtually phasing out coal, significant cuts in the use of oil and natural gas, and almost all electricity produced from cleaner energy sources.
Fourth, transformative changes are not optional, but needed across all anthropogenic systems to successfully mitigate climate change. While the energy sector remains the highest emitter and would require significant interventions, implementing changes within the industry, transport, agricultural, and forestry sectors also necessitates finance, sustainable technologies, and innovative approaches to overcome current political, economic, social, and logistical constraints and steer our world towards low-emissions, climate-resilient development.
The world has all the options needed to cut at least in half all emissions by 2030. There is still enough time to avert more disastrous climate change if the right actions are taken now.
Given the alarming findings of the newest IPCC report, Aksyon Klima Pilipinas makes the following calls and recommendations:
- The era of fossil fuels must come to an end. We call on the current and incoming leadership of the Philippine government to phaseout all coal-fired power plants and avoid proposals for expanding the natural gas industry. Doing so not only prevents the country from following the same pollutive development pathway by developed nations that caused the climate crisis in the first place; it also avoids placing billions of pesos worth of assets in the country at risk of becoming stranded and hindering sustainable economic development. It also avoids Filipinos from potentially experiencing unjustly and even higher prices of electricity and oil, when prices are already too high in the present.
- We demand from the Philippine government to fully commit to a just transition away from fossil fuels and towards a renewable energy (RE)-powered economy and society. The Renewable Energy Act must continue being fully implemented to reverse the trend of declining RE share in the national power generation mix, as a means to realize the goal of a 50% RE share by 2030, a vision that is considered feasible by the Department of Energy.
- We subsequently call on the Climate Change Commission and the National Economic Development Authority to finalize and present to the public the detailed Philippine strategy for achieving its target of a 75% reduction in GHG emissions within the current decade (2020-2030), as stated under the NDC. This must include clear decarbonization pathways, a target for net-zero emissions, and a list of mitigation measures with clear targets and timelines for each of the sectors of agriculture, waste, industry, transport, and energy.
- We also call that the current and incoming Philippine government at the national and local level must prioritize preserving ecosystems and biodiversity, especially natural carbon sinks such as rainforests and mangroves, to help reduce GHG emissions. Among key actions include stricter implementation of relevant environmental laws, allocating more public resources and mobilizing funding from private entities for implementing relevant programs and projects, and more inclusive decision-making with communities, marginalized groups, and other affected stakeholders as part of a genuine “whole of nation” approach.
- We demand that developed nations live up to their commitments by providing the means of implementation (MOI) that the Philippines and other developing countries need for low-emissions development under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. Said MOI, coming in the form of finance, technology transfer, and capacity-building mechanisms, must not be given through loans, but grants aligned with the principles of climate justice and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities, both of which are core parts of global climate action.
Image credit: Matt Bridgestock, Director and Architect at John Gilbert Architects