Environmentalists blockade oil refinery
BATANGAS CITY, Batangas, Philippines — “Sounding the alarm” for what is seen as the greatest crisis infringing on human rights, Greenpeace Philippines on Friday joined hands to form a human blockade in front of Pilipinas Shell Oil’s refinery in Tabangao, Batangas, in a bid to emphasize corporations’ outsized responsibility in curbing emissions causing global warming.
Around 6 a.m., six volunteers swiftly linked hands and chained themselves to a large siren. Within seconds, they had barricaded the gate: a peaceful yet brazen challenge to fossil fuel companies like Shell to show accountability for their role in the climate crisis.
“It is big industries like Shell: those who have unlimited financial resources, technical knowledge and manpower, who can shift the discourse toward a safer future because they have the greater responsibility [on what caused climate change in the first place],” said 22-year-old youth activist Krishna Arriola.
She added: “As we demand our right to a safe and livable future, we sound the alarm for fossil fuel industries because we only have 11 years left to limit the increase of our global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius. We should treat this as a national emergency.”
Landmark UN report
Greenpeace country director Lea Guerrero refers to the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which concluded that even half a degree beyond the 1.5 degree threshold could worsen the risks for extreme weather phenomena and widespread poverty for hundreds of millions.
The same report said that “urgent and unprecedented changes” are needed to hit the target.
At present, most countries like the Philippines won’t likely meet the Paris agreement to keep temperatures between 1.5 to 2°C, Guerrero said.
A large part of this was because fossil fuel companies like Shell had refused to acknowledge their role in the crisis, nor were they willing to participate in the climate talks, Guerrero said.
Global climate strike
“Companies like Shell are not being asked by any government body to report on their own emissions even though they are the largest contributors to emissions leading to global warming,” Guerrero said. “On the other end of it, the people who suffer the most are the people who are the least responsible for it.”
So as the Philippines — one of the lowest carbon emitters in the world — joined the global climate strike, its primary call is climate justice.
This means proportionate action to protect the vulnerable, Guerrero said.
Currently the Philippines ranks consistently among the top three countries most vulnerable to extreme weather and slow onset disasters spurred by climate change.
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