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Urgency, Ambition, Justice: Three climate bottomlines for the Philippine NDC

A farmer passes through a corn farm damaged by typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) in Cagayan. (Photo: Denvie Balidoy/Oxfam)


January 12, 2021

It is unfortunate that we begin the New Year with the news that the Philippines failed to submit its Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). All Parties to the Agreement and the Convention were asked to submit their NDCs last December 31, 2020. The Philippines is among the countries that failed to make a submission.
Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) articulate the clear and substantive commitments of governments to the global effort to combat the crisis of climate change, a crisis generated historically by rich, industrialized countries but has the greatest impacts on countries like the Philippines, which counts among the world’s most vulnerable.

NDCs reflect commitments to empower people and communities to deal with climate change impacts, ensure adaptation and climate resilience efforts, make financial flows consistent with climate-resilient development and decarbonization, and stop global temperature rise at the safest level still possible – below 1.5 degrees Celsius. NDCs are also measures of commitments to pursue immediate and long-term actions that are vital to addressing the manifold emergencies that are exacerbated by the climate crisis, such as the urgent and immediate recovery from the unprecedented COVID19 global pandemic and its economic fall-out.

2021 marks the beginning of the most critical decade for the future of people and the planet – it is our last chance to stop climate catastrophe. We have little time left to act; and all countries must contribute their fair shares. No amount of effort in the future will compensate for what we will fail to do in the next few years.

NDCs are extremely time-sensitive, and the quality of the content of the contributions is fundamental. Having already failed to meet the December 31, 2020 deadline, the Philippine Government through the Climate Change Commission (CCC) should use this as an opportunity to make up for the dismal preparatory process that was mounted last year – with its lack of mechanisms for substantive and meaningful participation of civil society – and to improve the even more dismal content of the Philippine NDC in its current draft version.

The 2021 NDC submission of the Philippines needs to reflect the actual ambition of the country. The Department of Energy declared a coal moratorium in 2020, which was applauded by many in the country and abroad. The chair designate of the CCC, the Secretary of Finance, spoke about the need to tackle the climate crisis while supporting the rapid transition to a low carbon-powered, resilient modern economy. The Department of Transportation has committed to shifting the country’s transport sector to low carbon, people-centered mass transport systems. Other agencies have made similar commitments. The elements of the draft Philippine NDC that was presented last December 2020 were glaringly inconsistent with these pronouncements, grossly inadequate in terms of ambition in adaptation and mitigation actions, and the opposite of what the Philippines should stand for.

We in civil society stand ready to contribute towards a just, ambitious, and quality NDC that the Philippines can be proud of. But at the minimum, the following are needed:

  1. The Philippine Climate Change Commission (CCC) should undertake genuine consultations – not merely information sessions – where Philippine CSOs and Climate Justice movements will be able to present and discuss substantively their critique, reactions, and proposals for the Philippine NDC to senior officials and policymakers of relevant agencies;
  2. The Department of Finance, as chair designate of the CCC, provide oversight of the process to ensure that the CCC carries out genuine consultations, that there is full disclosure and transparent sharing of the NDC drafts that detail the scope, ambition, and content of the proposed NDCs, and that there is a clear and concrete timeline for the 2021 submission; and
  3. The Philippine Climate Change Commission shall present the much improved penultimate draft NDC to Philippine CSOs and Climate Justice movements for discussion, at least one month before the final submission to the UNFCCC and way before the commencement of COP26.

We eagerly await the response from the Philippine Climate Change Commission.

January 11, 2021


Philippine Movement for Climate Justice
Aksyon Klima
Alyansa Tigil Mina
Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura
Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development
Bantay Kita
Concerned Citizens of Sta Cruz, Zambales
Freedom from Debt Coalition
Green Thumb Coalition
Greenpeace Philippines
Health Care Without Harm
Living Laudato Si
Oriang Women’s Movement
Oxfam Philippines
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
Zambales Lingap sa Kalikasan (ZALIKA)

For further enquiries:

Ian Rivera PMCJ
Mobile#: 09174746178; Email: