Oxfam Pilipinas and partner organizations on Saturday launched two simultaneous bike rides in Metro Manila and Eastern Samar to urge the Philippine government and world leaders to immediately address the climate crisis.
“We are calling on our national and local governments, as well as private corporations, to address climate change by significantly reducing carbon emissions and shifting towards the use of renewable energy,” said Oxfam Pilipinas Country Director Lot Felizco.
“Our bike campaign ‘REady, JET, GlasGOw,’ is our way of calling for climate justice in time for the upcoming climate negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland,” Felizco said. RE in the bike campaign name refers to renewable energy while JET refers to Oxfam’s Just Energy Transition program.
The event was held ahead of the yearly United Nations Climate Change Conference which will be attended by world leaders and key government decision makers. The event, which will be held from October 31 to November 12, will focus on the world’s commitment to keep temperature rise within 2 (preferably 1.5) degrees Celsius. Anything beyond that can be extremely dangerous for the world as more extreme weather such as heat waves, floods and tropical cyclones are expected to affect a large portion of the global population.
Felizco said the Philippines should look into alternatives to fossil fuels and promote positive developments such as the popularity of low carbon transportation and the use of renewable energy.
She pointed out that efforts of civil society organizations such as Oxfam have shown that marginalized and off-grid communities greatly benefit from renewable energy facilities.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating inequalities and resulting in worsening hunger and poverty among Filipinos, the government should be seriously looking into transitioning towards renewable energy, which is more sustainable and affordable in the long run,” Felizco said.
“Energy companies and domestic banks should stop financing coal and instead increase investments in renewable energy,” she added.
The Metro Manila leg of the bike ride started in Manila Baywalk. The cyclists passed through Roxas Boulevard, Jones Bridge, Plaza Miranda, Quiapo Church, Quezon Boulevard, Espana Boulevard, Welcome Rotunda, Quezon Avenue, and Commonwealth Avenue before ending at the Commission on Human Rights.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Samar Leg of the campaign was supported by the local government of Salcedo. The cyclists passed through the towns of Borongan, Maydolong, Balangkayan, Llorente, Hernani, Gen. MacArthur before reaching Salcedo, where Oxfam and partner organizations are implementing disaster risk reduction and anticipatory action projects.
Cycling with Oxfam Pilipinas were members of the Firefly Brigade, Bike Scouts, Layaw Bikers, and People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network, a local non-government organization that has been Oxfam’s implementing partner on disaster-related programs.
Besides the bike campaign, Oxfam is also spearheading the World Climate March, which is a way for people around the world to join the digital march for climate justice. Those interested in participating may use social media to call on world leaders to uphold their commitments. They may participate via this website: worldclimatemarch.org
STRONGER CLIMATE COMMITMENTS NEEDED
Felizco said that while the Philippines is not among the major carbon emitters in the world, the government should be working harder to shift towards a green economy since the country is among the most climate-vulnerable in the world.
The World Meteorological Organization’s (1970 to 2019) atlas of mortality and economic losses from weather, climate and water hazards revealed that 75% of the deaths recorded from South West Pacific were from the Philippines. The country has also suffered billions of dollars worth of economic losses due to extreme weather events, which have been linked to climate change. There is scientific consensus that global warming has been caused by human activity, especially those that create greenhouse gas emissions.
The Philippine government submitted its nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in April this year. It committed to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 75% from 2020 to 2030.
However, only 2.71% is unconditional or will be undertaken without international assistance. The remaining 72.29% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will only be undertaken if the Philippines received international funding.
“The government really needs to update its pledge and aim for stronger commitments that are unconditional,” Felizco said.
She said accelerated funding, adaptation and climate resilience efforts will help empower communities, especially those at the forefront of climate change impacts.
Oxfam Pilipinas is a development and humanitarian organization that has worked in the Philippines for 30 years to address the underlying causes of poverty through its humanitarian response and various programs on economic justice, conflict transformation, and gender justice.
Its Just Energy Transition program emphasizes the inclusion of a broad constituency, including poor and vulnerable communities. It aims to see energy transition that assists community resilience such as in the use of modular, small-scale, community-oriented renewable energy systems, which have been useful during disaster recovery and reconstruction.
Kristine Sabillo Guerrero
Senior Officer for Media and Digital Influencing, Oxfam Pilipinas