MANILA, Philippines – As diplomats and delegates from 192 nations gather in Denmark’s capital for the United Nations Climate Conference, climate activists here today reiterated that climate justice must be at the center of the two-week Copenhagen talks.

Debt watchdog Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and Climate Exchange (CLIMEX)– Pilipinas, a network of grassroots and non-governmental organizations campaigning on climate change, asked the Philippine government to stand firm on its previous call for developed countries, or the so-called Annex 1 countries, for “deep and early cuts” in their greenhouse gas emissions unconditionally through domestic measures.

“As citizens of one of the countries gravely affected by the catastrophic effects of climate change, we demand the Arroyo government to heed the calls of the Filipino people in demanding for climate justice and compel industrialized countries to pay up their ecological and climate debt owed to developing countries, especially the Philippines,” said Milo Tanchuling, FDC secretary-general and lead convener of Climex-Pilipinas.

“Our government should demand reparations and restitution due to their historical and current responsibility to the global climate crisis,” he added.

FDC and Climex- Pilipinas said they support the call of climate justice campaigners, urging world leaders to commit to a goal of achieving 350 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, and keeping temperature rise to within 1.5 degrees centigrade based on pre-industrial period level.

The groups also urged the Arroyo administration to negotiate on behalf of the interests of the Philippines and other developing countries, and not to give in to the pressures exerted by countries like the US, European Commission, Canada, Japan and Australia, among others, in their attempts to mangle the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process.

FDC and Climex-Pilipinas stressed the need for a “New Global Climate Fund” under the auspices of the UNFCCC and these funds must not be in the form of assistance or aid, but part of reparations for their much greater share of the historical as well as continuing responsibility for climate change and their huge ecological debt.

“Climate finance must not be in the form of loans, not be debt creating, or not lead to the accumulation of illegitimate debt. And, climate funds should not be controlled, managed and implemented by the usual suspects like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other international financial institutions,” Tanchuling said.

The groups also said that addressing the global climate crisis should be in the context of working towards ecologically sound, just, equitable and democratic system.

“There should be equitable and just distribution of climate funds among nations and within each country. Those most affected and vulnerable communities and countries, like the Philippines, should have direct access to these funds,” the groups added. (30)

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