Environmental activist group Greenpeace reiterated its call for a “climate emergency” declaration in the wake of disasters that hit the Philippines in recent weeks.
The group said that declaring a “national climate emergency” has become “more urgent and necessary” to determine what the government should prioritize to protect Filipinos from the ill effects of the climate crisis.
The presidential palace has earlier acknowledged the need for permanent solutions to the impacts of the climate crisis.
President Rodrigo Duterte announced this week the formation of a “Build Back Better Task Force” ahead of plans to establish a Department of Disaster Resilience in the country.
Virginia Benosa-Llorin, Greenpeace Philippines Climate Justice campaigner, said the government must not only focus on responding to and preparing for calamities but must also strengthen policies to mitigate the climate crisis and its impacts.
“Disaster preparedness and response are vital, but we need to focus beyond disasters and address broader, systemic issues that are part of the problem in order to better mitigate climate impacts,” said Llorin in a statement on November 18.
“What we see happening now is that a confluence of factors—not just the climate crisis—have led to flooding, loss of lives and livelihoods,” she said.
“Denuded watersheds, heavily silted rivers, and decades of short-sighted planning and governance amplify the effects of more intense and more frequent extreme weather brought on by the climate crisis,” said the climate activist.
Greenpeace has repeatedly said that climate interventions must not be solely focused on “moments of emergency,” but must be mainstreamed in all policies, plans, and projects.
“The full implementation of the country’s environmental policies must also be strengthened, because ensuring a healthy environment is one of the best ways to mitigate climate impacts on communities,” it said in a statement.
“What the country needs is a coherent strategy to address the climate crisis,” it said, adding that the strategy “should be rooted in policies that protect people and climate on the basis of climate justice.”
“A Climate Emergency Declaration places addressing the climate crisis as the foremost national priority and puts a climate lens on all policy and decision making and implementation,” said Greenpeace.
The proposed climate emergency declaration covers calling on other countries, particularly industrialized nations, to enhance their emission reduction targets in order to meet the Paris Agreement.
Greenpeace earlier expressed support to Duterte’s appeal for industrialized nations to cut their emissions, a key component in the organization’s call for climate justice.
The activist group said declaring a climate emergency also calls for establishing “an enjoined whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to strengthen climate response.”
The call for a climate emergency declaration cames as the country awaits the resolution to the Climate Change and Human Rights Inquiry, which sought into the responsibility of 47 multinational fossil fuel and cement companies for the human rights harms arising from climate impacts.
“Climate change is part of our new normal. It is already affecting our lives—stripping the poor of livelihood and safe living conditions. Without long-term solutions, it will continue to haunt us, especially the most vulnerable sectors,” said Llorin.