MANILA, Philippines – A day before the world celebrates the Mother Earth Day, around 500 members and friends of newly-formed coalition working on climate justice gathered in a people’s forum Wednesday at the Riverbanks Center in Marikina. They called on the Philippine government to heed the urgent demands of affected communities in pursuing a more equitable and sustainable development path, and to put peoples’ interests at the center of the global talks to address Climate Change
 
The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), a network of various people’s and non-governmental organizations, marginalized communities, social movements and basic sectors, organized the forum, dubbed “Make-shift for Climate Justice.”

“It is imperative that the government makes that shift – away from the short-sighted, profit-driven, extractive and destructive development path,” said Judy Pasimio, executive director of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center - Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KsK). She explained that the day-long event is in solidarity with 15,000 climate justice and environmental activists from 90 countries attending a climate change conference in Bolivia.
 
The Bolivian event, dubbed “People's World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth,” is an initiative of President Evo Morales Ayma as the grassroots alternative and response to last year's failed United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen. It is currently being held in Cochabamba until April 22. The Bolivia-led climate change talks’ main goal is to present draft proposals to the 16th Conference of Parties (COP-16) meeting due to be held in Mexico later this year.
 
Pasimio said that unlike the COP-15 Copenhagen summit by the United Nations in December 2009, the local event aimed to have an inclusive and participative environmental discourse.
 
“It is high time we listened to the voices of the unheard, of the people who come from different walks of life because they also have their own solutions and plans to solve the climate change crisis,” Pasimio stressed.
 
Pasimio added that rarely are there occasions where sectors in agriculture, fisheries, urban poor, indigenous peoples, labor and women are given opportunities to share their situations and how they are being affected by the climate crisis.
 
For his part, Milo Tanchuling, secretary general of the Freedom from Debt Coalition, urged the government not to associate the country to the Copenhagen Accord so as not to veer away from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process.
 
The Copenhagen Accord is a political agreement among a small number of rich countries and the big four emerging economies – China, India, Brazil, and South Africa brokered by the United States in the final hours of the climate negotiations in Copenhagen last December 2009.  The Conference of Parties refused to adopt and merely took note of the agreement in part because it was a product of an undemocratic and non-transparent process. The accord has been criticized as well by governments and civil society organizations for falling short of what is urgently needed to avert the climate crisis.

The United States however is insisting that the Accord become the basis for continuing negotiations leading up to the next global climate summit in Mexico towards the end of the year.
 
PMCJ also urged the government to demand Climate Justice from the so-called ANNEX 1 or developed countries. Climate justice is a principle that puts the burden to countries responsible for climate crisis based on their excessive emissions, detrimental actions and extraction of resources from other countries.
 
Lidy Nacpil of the Jubilee South – Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS-APMDD) called on the Philippine government and other South governments to remain steadfast in demanding Annex I countries to answer for their historical responsibility in causing the problem of climate change.
 
“Reparations must be made for the climate debt the Annex countries owe to the South. Reparations include providing climate finance to enable people of the South, especially the most affected communities, to cope with the impacts of climate change and compensate for losses, damages, and destruction,” Nacpil stressed.

Organizers of the event said the proposals and strategies by each sector in the local conference will be consolidated and submitted to the Philippine government and international forums. (30)

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