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Legal shield for lovers of Mother Earth, climate activists sought

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Monday urged the government to provide legal protection for environmental defenders and climate activists who promote climate awareness and education.

In a statement, the CHR noted that the Philippines plays an important role in leading and demanding climate action in the global arena as it is the fourth most climate change-vulnerable country in the world.

This, as international communities come together for the 27th Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP27) on Nov. 6 to 18 in Egypt with the theme “Rise Up: Moving Beyond Climate Talk to Climate Action.”

November is dedicated to the promotion of environmental education across all sectors of society by virtue of Republic Act No. 9512 or the National Environmental Awareness and Education Act.

“We must meet the 1.5° target of the Paris Agreement to prevent the irreversible harms of climate change,” the CHR said.

It emphasized that people’s lives and human rights are prioritized when the climate crisis is addressed with expedient urgency.

Earlier, Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, the head of the country’s delegation to COP27, said the damage caused by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng is a “reminder of the devastating impacts of climate change.”

Apart from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, representatives from the Departments of Finance, Agriculture, Energy, and the Climate Change Commission, climate scientists and climate and development experts composed the Philippine delegation to COP27.

“We call for concrete actions from all governments to review and enhance their nationally determined contributions,” the CHR said.

“We forward our recommendations to the Philippine government to ensure equality and non-discrimination in climate adaptation and mitigation measures through our National Inquiry on Climate Change report,” it added.

The CHR appealed to local leaders and lawmakers for the creation of legally binding instruments to strengthen the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.


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