I am an activist and I am a Filipino. It’s a very hard time for me to be outside of my country, while my brothers and sisters are still sorting through the wreckage and the death brought by Typhoon Yolanda. But I am activist and I know that terrible storm was no accident, so I must take action.
No one storm is ‘caused’ by climate change, but this one storm warns us of the reality – we have changed the climate. If we keep spewing out pollution from dirty energy, it will change further and extreme weather events will become only more extreme and more common.
So, in solidarity with my brothers and sisters affected by this typhoon and struggling against other impacts of climate change, I am committed to stopping what we call “extreme” weather becoming “regular” weather next year. In the Philippines we know what it will take to stop the climate crisis, it will take the complete transformation of our energy sector.
I work everyday to realise that transformation. I work in the Philippines, and today I am working in Warsaw, at the UN climate conference. I am here because that transformation will require what we call “the end of coal.” I am not the only one working for the end of coal, there are millions of us. And we want to end it globally.
Today in Warsaw we launched our People’s Communique on Coal, it sets out why coal as an energy source makes us sick, poisons our rivers, kills our trees and causes deadly storms like Yolanda. The People’s Communique says clearly: “the push for Coal is a betrayal of the commitment and obligation of governments under the United Nations to address climate change and shift to sustainable pathways.”
That seems like a simple sentence to me. Something nobody who’s even looked sideways at an IPCC report could quibble with. Yet today in Warsaw the Polish Government supported a conference that claims that coal is somehow part of the solution, that it is somehow part of the future, that somehow it does not kill. This idea was rejected by people from all over the world, in many creative ways and that creativity should give us all hope.
As simple as that sentence in the People’s Communique seems, the Australian and Japanese governments have come to this conference acting as if they work for coal companies instead of people. Last week they announced a weakening of their commitment to international climate action. NGOs laid the dead in the Philippines at their feet , and I would agree.
I would agree and I will keep fighting in the Philippines too. Coal energy has been actively pushed by transnational corporations, international financial institutions, international energy investors, and the government in the Philippines. The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) spearheaded a National Action Against Coal, in solidarity with the Global Day of Action Against Coal, at 15 sites of coal struggles in 13 provinces across the Philippines.
Thousands of affected communities took to the streets across the country to the demand to the Philippine government to immediately declare a national moratorium on all new coal projects and fulfill its commitment to shift to renewable energy systems and contribute in the global fight against global warming and climate change.
These are hard struggles, and these are hard times in the Philippines, but we are strengthened to know that people around the world are joining us and signing up to the People’s Communique. If you have not signed yet, do. If you are the UN, do not allow coal to undermine you again. If you are Australian, or Japanese, or from any country where your government is working for big coal companies instead of for you, join us.
Gerry Arrances, is an activist and anti-coal campaigner with the Philippines Movement for Climate Justice.