Author: Renee Karunungan

Deutsche Welle interview: What needs to happen for climate action to succeed?

I got a chance to be interviewed by Deutsche Welle on the upcoming #RiseforClimate mobilisations and the ongoing UNFCCC talks: Recent extreme weather events have been the final straw for the public. “Political leaders like [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel and [French President Emmanuel] Macron say they care for the environment, but they don’t act consequently,” Renee Karunungan, Europe media campaigner with 350.org, told DW. It’s time to show them who’s really taking action, she added.  Yet countries are still providing subsidies for fossil fuels. European financial instruments and public banks subsidize gas and oil production to the tune of more than €3 billion ($3.5 billion) per year. The powerful fossil fuel lobby is accused of exerting influence over governments — it’s considered a main reason for governments’ apparent lack of political will to take strong action to protect the climate. If a binding treaty did do that, “[countries] will simply pull out of it, like the United States did,” Karunungan said. But people power could make the difference — after all; politicians depend on people to get elected. People must become “citizen lobbyists,” in …

On further learning and finishing my masters

Today, I just submitted my final requirement for my masters — and just like that, this quest for further learning has come to an end. Cliche as it goes, time does go fast. Almost one year ago, I left the Philippines in pursuit of a masters degree in Media and International Development at the University of East Anglia. I have been a media and communications practitioner in the non-profit sector for seven years, but felt like I didn’t have a strong foundation to stand on. I wanted a theory to my praxis, to better understand the world around me. The decision to take the course was pushed by two things: 1.) the growing distrust on Philippine media, fake news, and social media influence in our democratic processes and 2.) the need for better science communications, especially on disasters and climate change (remember when we had 10,000 deaths because LGU’s said they didn’t understand what ‘strom surge’ meant?). In my one year of study, I have learned so many things, and in the process questioned if …

Your guide to #BoycottNutriAsia products

Because NutriAsia has been facing serious labour issues and have lately resorted to violence, we need to exert effort and put pressure on the company to make sure they comply with labour laws. We need to hold them accountable and to ensure that workers are treated humanely and fairly. The Department of Labor and Employment have already asked NutriAsia to regularise their workers. However, the company, led by Joselito Campos, refuses to do so. NutriAsia, which has a net worth of $650 million, is known for its brand condiments like Silver Swan, Datu Puti, and Mang Tomas. This multi million company refuses to regularise its 80 workers, all of whom are essential in making their well-loved products. We should now boycott all NutriAsia products. We cannot allow blood to be part of what we eat everyday. Here, I give you alternatives. I am aware that we need to look into other companies and their labour practices. The alternatives I give here are from brands which I have not heard of any labour problems (so far). …

Heatwaves in Europe, Flooding in Asia — The new normal?

The world is experiencing extreme events and it is no doubt connected to climate change. Right now Europe is enduring an extreme heatwave that experts say is contributing to the tragic wildfires in Greece where 79 people have died according to the latest from state officials. From the Mediterranean to the Arctic Circle unseasonably dry weather and high temperatures are hitting home – the incidence of forest fires alone is 43% above the seasonal average for the region. Sweden is calling for international support to battle several devastating wildfires that threaten to spread out of control as even the northernmost European states experience unprecedented conflagration. In the United Kingdom and across Europe deadly heatwaves have made temperatures reach 32 degrees Celsius. According to the UK MP’s this may be the new normal for the UK, with summer temperatures regularly reach 38.5C by the 2040s. Climate scientists including Myles Allen from the University of Oxford says that this heatwave in Europe is undoubtedly due to “human influence on climate” – the impacts of burning fossil fuels are here, now. In a statement, Nicolo Wojewoda, 350.org …

Ireland first country to divest from fossil fuels

The Irish parliament has passed the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill last July 12, making Ireland the world’s first country to divest from fossil fuels. The bill requires Ireland’s €8bn sovereign fund, the Irish Strategic Investment Fund, to drop all coal, oil, and gas investments within the next five years. The bill was proposed by TD Thomas Pringle who said in a statement: “The real effects of the Bill will be felt if other countries follow Ireland’s lead in sufficient numbers – this will help drive demand for low-fossil-fuel investments at a global level and potentially stimulate investment in renewable and sustainable alternatives.” Eamonn Meehan, executive director of Trocaire, an Irish environmental lobby that has pushed for the bill said that the decision was “vital” and sends a “powerful signal” to the community. He also said that, “the passing of this Bill is good news but has to mark a significant change of pace on the issue,” addressing Ireland’s lack of climate action. The country was ranked second-worst country in Europe in terms if climate action and GHG …