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Philippines to push through with global climate march

Climate change solutions must include the poor, activists say

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Published: November 27, 2015 10:18 AM GMT

Updated: November 26, 2015 10:39 PM GMT

Philippines to push through with global climate march

Josephine Pareja, a resident of a village in Zamboanga City, shows her opposition to the building of a coal plant in her community. (File photo by Joe Torres)

The Philippines will push through with a planned global climate march ahead of highly anticipated U.N. climate talks, even after the activity was canceled in Paris.

Some 10,000 people from social movements, trade unions and religious groups across Manila will march for climate justice on Nov. 28. It comes days before the scheduled Nov. 30 start of the U.N. climate summit in Paris, where world leaders will meet in an attempt to hammer out a global agreement to address climate change.

The Manila protest march will carry climate-related themes, like energy transformation; the right to food, land and water; justice and reparations for affected people; protection of the common home; jobs and youth.

Marches and rallies set to coincide with the U.N. climate talks have been canceled in many parts of the world due to heightened security concerns following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris.

In Manila, the activist group Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment said it will "send off" the Philippine government's delegation to the Paris meeting with 12 climate action demands.

Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator for Kalikasan, said Philippine President Benigno Aquino should adopt the demand for a "comprehensive, equitable, and legally binding climate protocol" that obliges top polluter countries to drastically cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

"Aquino's continuing failure to address worsening climate disruption in his own backyard has undermined the Philippines' position in the climate talks," said Dulce.

Aside from calling for a "just greenhouse gas mitigation scheme," Philippine environmental activists have called for a "widespread system change."

"Urgent action is needed to prevent irreversible global warming," said Dr. Giovanni Tapang, chairman of the group Advocates of Science and Technology for the People.

Tapang said the increasing strength of typhoons in the Philippines "has laid bare the vulnerability of our people to climate hazards."

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"It is our people who suffer from climate change effects," said Tapang.

He said disaster strikes when people can no longer cope with hazards.

"The people are more vulnerable to hazards because of poverty, landlessness, joblessness, and government corruption," said Tapang, adding that climate change responses must benefit the poor foremost — not only large businesses or politicians.

"To truly address climate change, we need to address the economic policies that keep our people poor and without the capacity to face increased hazards," Tapang said.

The country's Catholic bishops has earlier called on Filipinos to do their part in combating global warming by planting a tree, not using plastic, segregating waste, and promoting renewable energy, among others.

On Nov. 27, some 300 residents from coal-affected communities staged protests outside government offices in Manila to call for a stop to all coal projects in the country.

"The residents affected by coal projects want to highlight the impact of coal, not only to the people but also to the environment and natural resources," said Gerry Arances, national coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice.

There are 19 existing coal-fired power plants operating across the country. In the past five years, the Philippine government has allowed another 20 more to be operational by 2020.

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