The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) happening in Glasgow, Scotland, is one of the very few COPs before 2030 – the point where if we do not halve our global emissions to keep the warming within 1.5 degrees C, the damage becomes irreversible. Urgency is key – on mitigation efforts, climate finance, adaptation, and loss and damage. The Philippines is both a megadiverse country in terms of biodiversity and 3rd in the world in the Climate Risk Index. Our voice uniquely counts in COP 26.
The Philippine government must be faithful to what the state of our people and planet unmistakably reveal. We must not waste this opportunity to avert an impending disaster for us all. We are calling on the current government, as well as candidates running for office, to champion every Filipino’s human right to a safe and healthy environment, and our basic right to exist and survive in this country. They need to present a clear vision to navigate with exceptional leadership so we all could be together in mitigating the effects of and coping with the climate crisis that affects all of us.
Thus, our COP 26 voice should resound with our commitment to:
1. Synchronize all sectors on the goal. A commitment to mobilize and unite, from cities, government agencies, companies, academia, civil society, and investors, among others to further step up action in line with the Paris Agreement objectives to advance the climate agenda, including in greening of COVID-19 pandemic recovery finance.
2. Make national emission reduction targets to be ALL “unconditional”. Build on the momentum for enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), and Long-Term Strategies (LTS), responding to the findings of the latest UNFCCC NDCs Synthesis report. While we appreciate the commitments made by the Philippine government, we know that we can do much better knowing what we need, as only 2.71% of the 75% emission reduction target remains unconditional, while the remaining 72.29% is conditional. This gives much space for the possibility that the Philippine NDC targets will not be met. Making ALL our targets “unconditional” fulfills our requirement which could only work in our favor and also gives us a “buffer” in favor of being nature positive. Transformational adaptation solutions and increased climate funding should also be in place even as mitigation implementation speeds up.
3. Recognize and operationalize a consistent and robust integration of the value of nature in our social, economic, and political lives. These include but are not limited to legislation, policies, strategic plans, budgets, measures, and tools that include “nature” as an integral part of the framing of “cost and benefit” for our people and country. The Philippines must also champion and support technically, environmentally, and socially sound nature-based solutions for mitigation and adaptation for its own systems as well as demand this from other member-states and transboundary entities in the formal outcomes of the conference.
The message was the same over 50 years ago and we largely dismissed it. The message did not go away because the realities that triggered it now loom over us as existential threats. COP26 is one of the few remaining windows in time where we could reverse the course. There should be no other choice but to be in the service of life – ours and our one and only country, in our one and only home planet. Together, we can change the ending and we can change it NOW.