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Climate change in the year of Duterte

In his State of the Nation Address this year, President Duterte seemingly put importance on environmental issues, mentioning climate change, mining, adaptation, and disasters in his more than two-hour long speech. The President specifically mentioned “drought and long dry spells affecting food production in Mindanao” and asked “all agencies involved in food production to look into this and act accordingly.” He also said, “Responsible, regulated and sustainable development is what we advocate and require. The protection of the environment must be made a priority..” and called on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management to work on undertaking disaster measures. To be fair, this is the first in many years that environment and climate change was mentioned more than just in passing. Former Department of Energy and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez might have done a good job in giving more importance to environmental issues than any of her predecessors. It was during Lopez’s brief stint as environment secretary that climate change and mining issues were put forward as urgent and important. While Duterte claims …

Why even 1°C of global warming matters

The planet has already warmed 1°C from the pre-industrial period. But the question many people still ask is why does it matter? Isn’t 1 degree just small a number to be worried about? “The scales of the planet is different from the temperature scales we experience on a daily basis,” said Gavin Schmidt, director for NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, at the Congress International de Cambio Climatico (International Congress on Climate Change) held in Huelva, Spain last May 10-12. “One degree of warming matters. It is similar to one quarter of the ice age of 20,000 years ago to pre-industrial change,” Schmidt added. The difference of global temperature between the pre-industrial period and the last ice age is about 4-5 degrees celsius. However, 20,000 years ago, in the last quarter of the ice age, ice thawed because of an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which warmed the planet. This is according to a paper published in Nature. This warming caused the last deglaciation and within a few hundred years, seas have risen …

10 Biggest Climate News of 2016

I think we could all agree that 2016 has not been the best of years. It has been, to say the least, a never ending cycle of shock, anger, and sadness. From the Brexit to Trump’s win in the US elections to the devastation in Syria, 2016 has challenged all of us. Climate change news is no different — some shocked and angered us, but some also made us more hopeful. Here we compile the ten biggest climate news stories of 2016: 1. The Paris Agreement Enters Into Force One of the biggest and more hopeful news of 2016 was having the Paris Agreement enter into force. “Enter into force” means that it is already in effect. This was a welcome news last November, after at least 55 parties of the UNFCCC that accounts at least 55% of total Greenhouse Gas emissions have ratified the agreement. This is a big news since the Paris Agreement was expected to enter into force by 2020. Also, remember that the Kyoto Protocol only entered into force in 2005, 8 long years …

DENR Sec. to the world: Coal is ‘archaic’

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez on Thursday decried the use of fossil fuels at the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP) during the second week of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Marrakech, Morocco. In her speech, Lopez emphasized the rich biodiversity of the Philippines saying, “This is not just the wealth of the Philippines, it is the wealth of all of us together.” “Should the planet escalate to more than 1.5 degrees, we lose all of that. The planet simply cannot afford an indecisive ambiguity about what needs to be done. The situation is clear – anything more than 1.5 degrees will destroy possibilities for quality of life,” she added. Last year, the Philippines led the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a group of more than 40 vulnerable countries, which lobbied for the inclusion of a 1.5 degrees celsius target for global warming. PHL to shift to renewables? Lopez also mentioned the need to stay away from fossil fuels, saying, “We do not need to give up …

The Presidential Debate where no one stood up for the planet

MANILA – The second presidential debates held last Sunday tackled one of the most pressing issues of our time: climate change. We’ve heard and experienced it all before — the Philippines suffers the most due to climate change impacts. So it is but necessary to put climate change as one of the priorities of the next president, something which the present administration clearly has not done so well in. While the Philippines is a signatory to the Paris climate agreement and was, in fact, one of the key players in the climate negotiations held last December, it is also true that the country has kept its addiction to coal. There are more than 50 approved coal power plants intended to be built in the next 5 years. The Philippines promised a 70% reduction of carbon emissions by 2030. How the government plans to implement this commitment remains a question not clearly answered. The debate held last Sunday was a chance for presidential candidates to clearly state their positions and action plans on climate change and …

Human Rights at FIFDH 2016

I was in Geneva, Switzerland to attend the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights. I was invited to speak last March 5 at the debate after the screening of This Changes Everything by Avi Lewis. It was interesting, having been the only woman and from a developing country in the panel. I was with Martin Benson, climate scientist, former member of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and who is now a director of Institute for Environment Sciences of the University of Geneva. I was also with Remy Prud’homme, a professor emeritus at the University of Paris. Prof. Remy was a climate skeptic and I found his logic, well, illogical. With all due respect. So here I talked for the first time in front of a French audience about climate justice. I became emotional when Prof. Remy said that statistics say that lives in developing countries have improved over the years, which is why climate change isn’t true. So I told him, teary eyed, not to reduce our pain and suffering to …

Featured in Greenpeace Magazin

I am currently featured in the latest Greenpeace Magazin issue in Germany! Everything is in German but it features my work on human rights and climate. This was shot at The Louvre one day after the Paris climate agreement was signed. Photo by Jo Mangrean. Visit the Greenpeace Magazin website: www.greenpeace-magazin.de