Message: The Climate Reality Project – Philippines: The Filipino Youth Beyond Paris

September 19, 2016

Message of Senator Loren Legarda
The Climate Reality Project – Philippines:
The Filipino Youth Beyond Paris
19 September 2016 | Sulo Riviera Hotel, Quezon City


I believe all of you present here today know and agree that we are at risk; we are vulnerable to climate change risks. The signs are all around us. The numbers speak for themselves. It is no longer an issue of taking action, but rather of how much action we need to take.


It is important for the youth to get involved in climate change adaptation and mitigation not only because your future is at stake, but more importantly because we are all stewards of the Earth.


According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), from 1880 to 2012, average global temperature increased by 0.85°C. But global warming has already breached the 1°C level with unprecedented warming in the past months. We have already borne countless tragedies and losses from recurring impacts of extreme weather events under a 1°C global warming. How much more with higher temperatures?


The IPCC predicts that a 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius increase in global mean temperatures from pre-industrial levels threatens 20-30 percent of all species with extinction.[1]


If the world goes business as usual, there will be 6 million deaths per year by 2030, close to 700,000 of which will be due to climate change.[2]


With warming of up to 2°C, sea level rise is projected to be around 70 centimeters. Sea level rise, floods that damage fish farms, and the increased acidification of the oceans by 2050 could reduce farmed fish yield by 90 percent.


Moreover, sea level rise threatens to submerge island nations; ocean acidification is causing irreversible damage to our coral reefs, while the sudden shifts from hot temperatures to incessant rains pose uncertainties to agriculture, greatly affecting our food security. The warming climate is now one of the most significant risks for World Heritage Sites, including our own Ifugao Rice Terraces. Extreme rainfall and heavy floods constantly threaten lives, livelihood and development.


We are already experiencing the impact of climate change and if we do not act now, we will start to feel its grave effects in 15 to 35 years from now, or even earlier.


Clearly, what is at stake here is your future and even your children’s future.


You have the right to demand from us, your parents and your leaders, decisive and urgent action to limit global warming to 1.5°C. It is our duty, under the concept of inter-generational responsibility, to ensure that you and the future generations will continue to enjoy a balanced and healthful ecology.


This is why nations, especially those highly vulnerable to climate impacts such as the Philippines, pushed for the inclusion of the 1.5°C global warming limit in the drafting of the Paris Agreement.


In the Agreement, our commitment is to keep global temperature rise this century well below 2°C. The 1.5°C warming limit is an aspiration; but we must do everything not to go beyond that, because the 1.5°C goal is a matter of survival.


At this point, 27 of the 197 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have ratified the Agreement, including the US and China, the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG). They represent 39.08% of global GHG emissions[3] For the Agreement to enter into force, at least 55 Parties to the UNFCCC representing 55 percent of global GHG emissions must ratify it.


I am hopeful that it will not take long for our own government to realize the wisdom of completing our process of ratification.


But even as the Paris Agreement has been hailed by many as a landmark agreement, its aspirations will not happen on its own.


Effective enforcement emanates from everyone’s understanding and appreciation of responsibility and accountability.


Young as you are, I believe that you are the most active partners in challenging development norms, politics, governance and leadership. You are the future of this country. You are the frontliners in the overall action towards climate action and resilience.


Each of us has opportunities to make a difference for our future. We must take hold of the opportunity to responsibly manage our environment and lead the way towards resilient and sustainable development.


Thank you.

[1] IPCC 4th Assessment Report (AR4).

[2] Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet.