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Asia-wide biking events greet opening of Egypt climate summit, bikers call for climate reparations for developing countries: Thousands join bike actions in 50 cities in 9 countries across Asia

Cyclists of Hilongos called for climate justice and demanded rich governments and industries to deliver climate reparations for developing countries. (Photo: Leah Payud)

Cycling enthusiasts and ordinary people joined climate campaigners in 49 coordinated biking events in nine Asian countries as the COP27 climate summit begins today in Egypt. COP27 is being held at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from November 6 to 18. Pedal for People and Planet was held in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal.

The bikers called on governments of rich, industrialized countries to immediately deliver climate reparations for developing countries that are bearing the brunt of climate change. Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) said the plight of people of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines after climate change related calamities dramatically and tragically highlight the gravity and urgency of addressing climate change.

“This year, millions of people all over the world have suffered the grave impacts of climate change. Homes have been damaged, jobs and livelihoods disrupted or lost altogether, vast areas of crops destroyed, people have been dislocated. Too many died. We call on the governments of rich, industrialized countries, their elites and giant corporations who bear the greatest responsibility for the climate crisis: pay your climate debt owed to people and communities who contributed the least, if at all, to the problem, but bear its biggest impacts,” said Nacpil.

Nacpil said the fulfillment of climate finance obligations is part of reparations.  The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – a legally binding agreement that is the basis of the climate summit that is about to start in Egypt – specifies that developed country governments must provide climate finance to developing countries in recognition that developed countries have contributed the most to the problem of climate change. 

“This climate finance is to be used for adaptation, building resilience, and GHG reduction measures in developing countries, which includes the transition to renewable energy away from fossil fuels. It is not aid or assistance but part of reparations for the harm caused,” said Nacpil.

In 2009, developed countries pledged to jointly mobilize $100 billion annually in climate finance by 2020 to fund climate action in developing countries. “This 100 billion climate finance goal is miniscule considering that the estimated climate finance needed between now and 2030 is at least $11 trillion. But rich countries are not even fulfilling their promise of this ridiculously low amount. They are spending several times more on subsidies for fossil fuels,” said Nacpil. 

“They are also refusing to provide climate finance to cover loss and damage to lives, infrastructure, ecosystems and economies”, she said.

The COPs are the biggest and most important annual climate-related conferences. This year marks the 27th annual summit, or COP27. Countries agreed at last year’s summit to deliver stronger commitments this year, including updated national plans with more ambitious targets. However, only 23 out of 193 countries have submitted their plans to the UN so far. 

This year’s summit will also see negotiations regarding some points that remained inconclusive after COP26 in Glasgow, including “loss and damage” financing.

These calls were highlighted in other bike action legs in cities in Eastern Visayas which were previously devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. Climate campaigners say that the onslaught that the typhoon brought to the Philippines is a grim reminder of what is to come when climate impacts intensify.

Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, speaking for the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), said the usual inaction, deception and tactics done by governments of the Global North to avoid their climate finance obligations are “serious travesties of justice and outright violations of human rights at this time of intensifying climate impacts.”

“The lack of progress in climate pledges has put us on the pathway to climate catastrophe. We have very little time left to address climate change and save humanity and the planet,” added Pedrosa.

Lot Felizco, Country Director for Oxfam Pilipinas, said “Our recent ‘Climate Finance in Asia’ report shows that the Philippines and other vulnerable Asian countries  continue to struggle with the climate crisis  that rich and developed  countries have caused and benefited from. This is why this COP27, we are calling for better and sufficient climate finance that would allow developing nations like the Philippines to adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change.”

This is the fourth Pedal for People and Planet event this year. The first was held on April 24 in 9 countries, the second was held on June 5 in 11 countries, and the third on October 2 in 8 countries.

In the Philippines, bike actions were held in 10 cities and provinces with routes that included sites of proposed coal and LNG plants. The biggest event was held in Metro Manila with more than 2,500 bikers riding 15 kilometers from Quezon City to Manila to Quezon City. The longest leg of the LUZON Bike action was the 27 km ride of 500 bikers from Bulacan to QUEZON CITY to raised their call for CLIMATE EMERGENCY and CLIMATE REPARATION. The event was organized by APMDD with Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Sanlakas, Oriang, Pilipinas, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), The Climate Reality Project Philippines, Oxfam Pilipinas, Greenpeace Pilipinas, Caritas Philippines, The Firefly Brigade, Siklistang Pilipino, Galas Bikers Club and Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura.

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Lani C. Villanueva