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Facing climate crisis

Environmental campaigners expressed disappointment over President Rodrigo Duterte’s sixth and final State of the Nation Address that rambled for more than three hours but failed to mention any actions to protect the environment and mitigate the impacts of the ongoing climate crisis.

“This is a big gap considering that everything that transpires, all the other plans the president has laid out – for economic growth, for bettering Filipinos’ welfare – will inevitably happen against the backdrop of a growing climate emergency,” Greenpeace country director Lea Guerrero said in a statement Tuesday.

The Philippines is among the most vulnerable and worst hit countries by natural disasters that have been gaining intensity as the planet’s climate changes.

While the current administration made “important steps” in slowing down the expansion of coal energy, Guerrero said government must do more to prioritize concrete solutions that will empower communities and future-proof the country.

“Greenpeace is calling on President Duterte and his administration to transform words into action: ensure a transition to resilient and efficient food, energy and transport systems; hold the big polluters accountable for climate impacts; uphold active citizen participation; and put people at the core of local and national policymaking,” Guerrero noted.

The Philippines has been identified to be among the top marine plastic polluters and most long-term climate-vulnerable nations in the world. It has also been consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous countries for environmental and land activists since 2017.

To be fair to climate activists, the President’s SONA also failed to comprehensively address many other urgent issues, including the still-surging Covid-19 pandemic. It is possible that through the efforts of the cabinet secretaries concerned, government will still act on these many urgent concerns, whether or not they were mentioned in the SONA, because neither the changing climate nor the pandemic will wait for a government’s leader to acknowledge them as a serious concern before wreaking havoc on countries and their people.*

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