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Philippines appeal for Green leadership

16 October 2015


Keeping their feet dry: commuters hitch a ride along a highway in Bulacan province in the Philippines, after a tropical storm on 2 October brought flooding to the area

Keeping their feet dry: commuters hitch a ride along a highway in Bulacan province in the Philippines, after a tropical storm on 2 October brought flo...

BRITAIN must build on its “historic legacy in taking the lead to solve moral issues”, by showing solidarity with developing countries suffering the effects of climate change, a Filipino campaigner said last week.

Miguel “Myke” Magalang is at present in the UK with Christian Aid to call for climate justice at party conferences. A former chief executive of a climate-change charity in the Philippines, he is now working to tackle the issue as a local councillor.

Typhoon Haiyan, which struck in 2013 and has been attributed to climate change (News, 14 November, 2014), has had a devastating impact on the Philippines. As 8000 people remained missing and four million had been displaced, many hopes were riding on the UN climate-change conference in Paris, in December, he said. “Now is the time to seek climate justice.

The Philippines represent 0.1 per cent of carbon emissions. . . The UK Government has this very good historic legacy in taking the lead to solve various moral issues of humanity [so] we are appealing to it to take the lead in the Paris negotiations.”

Mr Magalang said that an ideal outcome would be a reduction in emissions to avoid an increase of 2°C in global warming, and a commitment to contributing “significantly to the climate fund. . . If small countries can do this, then the big ones have responsibility to also do their share.”

Those implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in the Philippines must avoid repeating the “failure” of the Millennium Development Goals, which had been subject to “imposition from national to local level”, he said. “It should be the other way round: a bottom-up approach where people themselves would make their contribution in order to attain the target.”

Mr Magalang started training as a priest and was inspired by the Roman Catholic Church’s social doctrine to pursue justice after a mining accident on his home island. He began campaigning “for the sake of my daughter and future generations”.

Although typhoons were a feature of life in the Philippines, they had become more frequent and of greater magnitude, he said. The Church was “taking the lead” on climate change in the Philippines, and the Pope’s Encyclical Laudato Si’, although welcome, was also “just a conciliation of the social teaching of the Catholic Church on the environment”.

His message to the UK is one of gratitude for its support, and a reminder that “cooperation is not only about financial aid and money, it is also about solidarity, about partnership, [and an] opportunity to help us out, to stop counting our dead every disaster.”

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