Five Years After The Paris Agreement, Environmental Racism Against the Philippines Continues

The Philippines is ranked as the country with the highest risk of climate change hazards, predicted to be underwater in 30 years, asking rich countries for accountability.

Mildred German

Unceded Territories
|  2020 marks the 5th anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Agreement / Accord de Paris. This agreement was negotiated by representatives of 196 state parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Le Bourget, near Paris, France on December 12, 2015.

The goal: each country must determine, plan, and regularly report on the contribution that it undertakes to reduce global warming.

However, as 2020 also marked the 7th anniversary of the Super Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines in 2013 and left nearly 10,000 dead in Tacloban City, Leyte, the many affected areas in the archipelago remain at high risk of the worsening climate change.

Such devastation in 2013 of Super Typhoon Yolanda has prompted the people of the Philippines and Filipino delegates to immediately demand action at the United Nations (UN) Climate Meeting in Warsaw, Poland. It was then finally, that the UN was prompted to act on climate change after many years of debates on the issue of global warming and climate change, and to oblige every nation to uphold their commitments to reduce their carbon footprints.

However, despite the multiple warnings on the irreversible impacts of climate change, the recent UN reports have come in disappointment as no UN member nation has been on track of their Paris Agreement / Accord de Paris goals, as reported.  This not only exposes us to the dreadful reality of climate change, but also it tells us that the efforts and funds used to address climate change over the years are not on track and therefore, ineffective.

This UN report also means that Canada is failing on its own climate change goals, as agreed in the Paris Agreement / Accord de Paris. Canada has been catching the world’s attention due to its controversial Trans Mountain (TMX) Pipeline, CGL Pipeline, and Site C Dam projects, as such mega-projects have brought concerns on their irreversible environmental and social impacts.

Currently, Canadian mining giants are still operating in the Philippines. There are over 35 Canadian mining corporations in the Philippines, including Vancouver-based Oceana Gold, with a mandate to not only plunder the Philippine resources, but also to displace native Filipinos from their lands.

In addition, the world’s second-largest emitter the US, has just recently withdrawn from the Accord, and is the only country to do so, a move by President Donald Trump, who claims the Accord is ‘designed to kill the US economy’.

China still rejects the ruling to respect international laws in terms of the Philippine Seas and has also reportedly plundered the Philippine resources and territories.

The Philippines is Most at Risk from Climate Crisis, Asks for Accountability

The coronavirus has spread like wildfire in major cities of the Philippines such as Metro Manila, and many areas in the country. To curb the spread, the Philippines recently passed laws on spreading coronavirus as “serious crimes”.

As the Philippines grapples to contain the coronavirus, the impacts of climate change add to the overlapping crises in the country as five typhoons ravaged the Philippines in the month of November alone, resulting in massive floodings, landslides, destruction of crops and livelihood worth over P10 billion, diseases as dirty water flows into communities, millions of homeless, and death.

Following the recent disasters, Philippine President Duterte has declared a climate emergency and has ‘renewed calls for wealthy nations to be held accountable for the climate crisis that is being acutely felt in the developing world’.

However, since President Duterte’s term, the Philippines has been reported to replace Brazil as the most dangerous place for environmentalists and land guardians causing tensions in the Philippines. Paramilitary groups and extrajudicial killings have increased. Attacks on Indigenous communities and their livelihood rise.

Through destruction of resources to food, water, and livelihood, and the increasing militarization and paramilitary operations backed by the Philippine government, Filipinos have been pushed out of their ancestral lands and are forced to find greener pastures outside the country  such as Canada, which depends on Filipino migrant labour. Filipino workers however, mostly work in the 3D (dirty, difficult, and dangerous) jobs many Canadians do not want to do.

The Philippines is known to have the second largest gold deposit in the world including oil deposits.  In 2016, the Philippines was reported to have a USD $26.3 trillion worth of untapped oil resources in the disputed Spratly Islands. In 2018, a $1 trillion natural gas deposit was also discovered in Mindanao.

As long as the Philippines remains a colonized nation in a de-facto independence, exploited and plundered by rich countries and multinationals, the world will see more nations sinking underwater and more Indigenous peoples displaced.

Effective climate change can only happen with the abolition of military and missile supremacy and environmental racism by the rich countries.