Words by Sophia Legion
It is not only our forests which are burning today but the rage of the youth whose future are at stake of turning into ashes if we continue staying calm amidst the climate emergencies of today.
Last September 27, 2019, the University of the the Philippines Los Baños through the College of Human Ecology Student Council (UPLB CHE SC), together with UP Ecology and Systematics Major Students Society (UP ECOSYSTEMSS), Samahang Ekolohiyang UPLB (SAMAEKO-UPLB), Haring Ibon UPLB (HI UPLB), UP Kappa Phi Sigma – Conservation and Development Society (UP KPS-CDS), UPLB College of Forestry and Natural Resources (UPLB CFNR SC), and other progressive college councils and students participated the Youth Strike For Climate Laguna. This is one of the arm protests of the Youth Strike for Climate Philippines, a national movement which calls for the saving of our seas; protection of mountains and Indigenous Peoples; cessation of Manila Bay reclamations, running of coal power plants and building of the Kaliwa Dam; ban of single-use plastics; and the shift to renewable energy.
They belong to around four million young people from almost 200 countries across the globe including the Philippines who participated on a one-week protest for the 2019 Global Climate Strike with the demand for climate justice and a global concrete plan of action on environmental sustainability. This is by far the largest global climate strike whose fire was primarily lit and inspired by the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg.
“Adults keep saying: we owe it to the young people to give them hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel everyday. And then, I want you to act. I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire. Because it is”, stated Thunberg as she challenged the world leaders in her speech on the World Economic Forum last July in Davas, Switzerland.
Thunberg started skipping classes every Friday and protest to firmly condemn the environmental injustices of their government. She became the face of global youth activism primarily on the battle against climate genocide. Her speeches and protests bluntly criticizes the personal selfish agendas of most nation leaders whose lack of action and inhumane government policies led to the massive destruction of the environment. She described today’s crisis as the “suffering of the many which pays for the luxuries of the few”.
This worsening crisis is reflected in the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)’s latest scientific data which shows that acceleration in global warming and sea-level rise occurred in the five-year period of 2014 to 2019. Even some of the world leading climate scientists already warned that if temperatures reach beyond 1.5 degrees (as agreed under the 2015 Paris agreement), consequences will no longer be reversible; and we only have less than twelve years to keep it it below that mark.
Some countries already called out for climate emergency. Our natural resources are being exploited and abused with the permission of our government leaders whose personal agendas are in line with their partners from multinational corporations. And this is not just a hypothetical crisis. This is real and is clearly depicted by the screaming trauma on the faces of groups coming from the indigenous reserves of the Amazon and other forests on fire worldwide; the dying biodiversity; and the continuous carbon emissions which are only a portion of what we are facing and will have to face in the coming years.
Locally, the Filipino youth are fighting for the indigenous people and locals who are victims of the unreasonable and exclusive modernization programs of the government. Multinational corporations are being allowed to denude our forests through illegal logging and mining. We are currently facing the consequences of our actions in the face of the super-typhoons and other calamities hitting our country. In fact, the Philippines is the third most vulnerable nation to climate disasters. But who really gets affected? The poor. Who will continue to suffer in the future? The youth.
With people aged below 25 constituting 42 percent of the total global population, the world leaders are called to value youth participation in this matter. “We believe that we must be at the forefront of the ongoing global struggle against the climate crisis for the survival of our planet”, stated Jefferson Estrella, the main organizer of Youth Strike for Climate Philippines.
If we are really the hope and the future of our respective nations, then the older population are our hope to have a grasp of that future. As the forces in the front-line of this movement, we are called to stand and continue to amplify the increasing alarm of climate emergency. We cry for solutions from our leaders and committed actions from every individual. This is the message we proclaim and the place we take in the front-line of this battle. A system change for climate change. [P]