MANILA, Philippines – Members of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and Climate Exchange (CLIMEX) Pilipinas staged a creative protest in front of the United States embassy here today, denouncing the recent statement issued by the top special envoy for climate conference in Copenhagen who admitted the US historic role in global warming but rejected the any notion of guilt or reparation.

Wearing colorful masks, raincoats and boots, around 200 members of FDC and CLIMEX Pilipinas lambasted US special envoy Todd Stern for saying that the US is not in debt to developing countries because the greenhouse effect is a “relatively recent phenomenon.”

The US is pressuring major developing countries to take on more responsibilities by offering carbon emission reduction plans in negotiations.

Rebecca Malay, FDC vice president, said that Annex 1 countries’ historical and current responsibility to the climate crisis is an already established fact.

“The US and other Annex 1 countries are derailing the climate talks by shifting the blame to developing countries. They recognize their historical responsibility, but they don’t want to pay for it,” said Malay.

FDC is demanding rich nations unconditional and total financing of adaptation measures as a form of reparation for the “ecological and climate debt” it owes to poor nations.

Climate debt, the group explained, refers to the historical obligation owed by rich countries to poor nations as a result of years of plunder, extraction of resources and economic domination.

“For the longest time, we’ve been made to believe that we are indebted to rich countries because of their loans and development aid to us—many of which were burdensome and illegitimate with some even exacerbating the climate crisis. Now, we forward a new perspective, the global north owes the global south,” Malay stressed.

Recently, Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama said “developed countries, including Japan, must contribute through substantial, new and additional public financing.”

Social movements including FDC greeted this with qualified appreciation stating that bold words must be reciprocated with bold actions.

“This has yet to be proven with necessary action. Thus, we challenge them not only to talk the talk but more importantly, to walk the walk,” FDC said.

The group said financing from developed nations should be new money over and above official development assistance and must be in the form of grants and not loans.

Meanwhile, CLIMEX Pilipinas criticized the Arroyo Government for delisting Bernarditas de Castro Muller, the coordinator and spokesperson of G77 and a known tough negotiator for developing nations, from the Philippine negotiating team to Copenhagen. It branded it as an extension of Mrs. Arroyo’s “martial law antics.”

“Not satisfied in derailing political democracy in the Philippines through martial law in Maguindanao, Mrs. Arroyo is now trying to prevent the global community realize climate democracy and justice by putting her weight on the negotiating team,” Virgie Pinlac, CLIMEX Pilipinas spokesperson said.

Pinlac said if not for the good graces of Sudan who adopted Muller, Arroyo and developed nations would have successfully derailed her work as the negotiator for developing nations.

The groups also castigated Mrs. Arroyo for breaking from the G77 unities by stating that the country “need not insist on deep and early cuts in carbon emission.” The group said such a statement is “deplorable, clearly establishing Mrs. Arroyo as an enemy of climate justice.”

CLIMEX Pilipinas instead challenged the Philippine negotiators to remain steadfast to the G77’s positions and to work fully with them with the end view of negating the US and other rich nations’ attempt to deny their responsibility for the crisis.

Some of the other fundamental positions FDC and CLIMEX Pilipinas are advocating include:
  • Deep and early cuts in emissions of Annex 1 countries
  • Limit carbon concentration in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million
  • Temperature increase must not go beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius
  • A new and democratic global climate fund out of reach of international and regional financial institutions
  • Unconditional and total funding of adaptation and mitigation efforts of developing nations as a form of reparation for the ecological and climate debt it owes to poor nations.
  • Total cancellation of all illegitimate debts claimed from developed countries especially those incurred and have amplified the current climate crisis.  (30)

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