YOUTH TELLS GOVERNMENT: ‘Declare climate emergency!’

By Mavic Conde


Everytime a climate disaster renders a place uninhabitable, immediate relocation of residents becomes a priority.


But is it the ultimate solution?


For youth climate advocates from the region, it isn’t.


According to Bicol University Science Alliance Club (BU-SAC), “Rolly should be a wake-up call that we’ve had enough and a reminder for us to do better.”


Hence, the group calls for the national government to declare a climate emergency, as what scientists, environmental organizations, and climate activists have been demanding from President Duterte to ensure urgent actions to mitigate climate change.


“We believe that the declaration will create ripples of gearing us up to a better normal because the normal that we have in mind is the problem itself. Let’s modify our thinking and understand that we need to focus on the things that will lead us to something that we truly deserve. We’ve had enough, never again! This is the last wake-up call and reminder for us to do better,” the statement reads.


“These typhoons are induced more by climate change and global warming. We have experienced enough, [and we are still going through the COVID-19 pandemic]. We deserve a sustainable, liveable, and a better way of living,” the statement added.


“If we do not take this seriously, we will be expecting more catastrophic events. There will be more super Typhoon “Rolly” — with the Covid-19 pandemic on top of it,” said BU - SAC President Bill Bontigao, a resident of Tabaco City whose house was damaged by “Rolly.”


Bontigao is among the youths in Bicol that have been experiencing the impacts of some of the worst typhoons to hit the country in the past two decades.


Moreover, the group supports Greenpeace’s demand that “declaring a climate emergency must also include holding big polluters accountable for their significant contribution to the climate crisis.”


Greenpeace Philippines, according to the group, previously called on the Duterte government to “show climate leadership as once again, the marginalized sectors, such as the youth, are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis.”


“When the youth calls for a climate emergency declaration, the government must listen. They are relentless in calling for urgent actions because their future is on the line,” Greenpeace Campaigner Virginia Benosa-Llorin said.


She added that “in a country that is regularly battered by strong typhoons, Filipino youth need protection. One way to ensure they are protected is to set policy directions that put people and the planet first.”