Philippine delegation’s COP 28 participation must be with the people

Published

Conference of the Parties (COP28) December 1, 2023

A message from civil society on the opening day of the Philippine Pavilion and commencement of the World Climate Action Summit at COP 28

We, representatives of climate vulnerable communities, members of the church and faith-based organization, youth, and members of civic movements – including Philippine civil society present in Dubai, UAE – express our grave disappointment at the Philippine Delegation’s failure to uphold meaningful participation of communities and civil society in the first-ever Philippine Pavilion at COP 28.

More than two decades of COPs have proven that the collaborative efforts of governments and non-governmental organizations is pivotal in achieving progress in the climate conversation. The Filipino community has notably been one of the strongest voices both inside and outside of the negotiation halls, contributing to landmark climate agreements and developments in Paris, Warsaw, Glasgow, and others.

For the first time, the Philippine government will be opening its own pavilion, signaling the country’s high stakes for this year’s climate negotiations. It is a space that has potential to facilitate critical intersectoral discussions for our people’s climate survival and to exhibit the Filipino solidarity for climate justice and action – especially against the backdrop of the tenth year anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda. Unfortunately, it is clear that the inclusion of vulnerable communities and civil society is not a priority of the delegation, and the pavilion’s execution.

As the pavilion opens and the World Climate Action Summit starts today, we decry the lack of transparency and absence of a genuine attitude toward collaboration from the Philippine Pavilion Committee led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.. Despite compliance with the changing requirements from the Pavilion Committee, civil society groups without pre-existing ties with the Philippine delegation head were unable to receive formal and consistent communication regarding applications for pavilion events, including their eventual denial. We are gravely concerned that this illustrates a prejudice against civil society raising critical discussions both at our home country and in annual climate negotiations. This exclusion will only mean that difficult but crucial conversations meant to sharpen positions and raise ambitions will be buried under flashy pronouncements meant to paint the COP participation of the Philippine government a success. Ultimately, it also reveals a government unwilling to listen and to be held to account. Whether the delegation represents the best interest of the people also becomes a question.

COP 28 entails a crucial opportunity for the world to take decisive action to protect the 1.5°C climate goal and uphold climate justice through the delivery of reparation and resources to accelerate both mitigation and adaptation in climate-vulnerable countries like the Philippines. We are a country that is rich in potential climate solutions – particularly renewable energy: in fact, a recent groundbreaking report from a global think-tank found that a full renewable energy transition aligned to 1.5°C is feasible for the country by no later than 2040. Such findings can enable government and civil society alike to demand bolder action in global spaces like COP 28. This is crucial in the Philippines’ struggle to break free from “development” pathways that only exacerbate our climate vulnerability. In a 1.5°C future for the Philippines, coal, gas, and other destructive energy like nuclear and thermal waste-to-energy can no longer wreak destruction; meanwhile, socio-economic benefits like the empowerment of communities, access to energy,  more affordable power prices, jobs, and others are made available to Filipinos.

Plans from the Philippine government are currently far from aligned to this – be it in its Philippine Energy Plan, Nationally Determined Contributions, and others. The imperative of enabling a 1.5°C compatible future for the country must therefore be its guiding light at spaces like COP 28 both in negotiations and public endeavors. Civil society, whose dedication to strive for climate justice and action is rooted in a history of confrontation with the realities of climate impacts, is more than capable of amplifying this. The Philippine delegation must recognize this. At the same time, it must not live out an agenda that will further the climate crisis.

We challenge the Philippine delegation and government to move forward with the spirit of solidarity that the Filipino community has always brought to the table. Our country’s voice holds huge weight when given due space and brought to light, both within and outside of the negotiation halls. Climate justice and genuine sustainable development will only be achieved when grounded in current realities, while ramping up a just energy transition and climate action that put people and our voices at the center. The COP 28 presidency had earlier in the year said that COP 28 seeks to be ‘the most inclusive COP ever’; it is outrageous to see a country most impacted by the raging climate crisis to be the one excluding its own people.
 

Signed,
 

Power for People Coalition | Youth for Climate Hope Philippines

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice | Caritas Philippines | Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development | Freedom from Debt Coalition | Sanlakas | Greenpeace Philippines | Laudato Si’ Movement Pilipinas | Stewards and Volunteers for the Earth – SAVE Ph | SPARK – Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan | Alyansa Tigil Mina | Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), Inc. | Kabiling Lunhaw | Students’ Movement for Climate Action | Sipaway Seagrass Guardians

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