We are in a Climate Crisis: COP26 and what you need to know.

The 26th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, commonly known as COP 26, is seen as one of the most important climate conference in years. Here, delegates from 192 countries come together in Scotland until next week to continue the work on curbing global warming.


 
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What makes this crucial is that the world expects this conference to address key issues from commitments created in the earlier COP21, which created the Paris Agreement which aimed to keep climate change well below an increase of  2°C (ideally below 1.5°C). But what does this all mean for a country like the Philippines? Scroll down to learn more!



Graphics by Future Earth

While we do want to talk a little more about COP26 we want to focus a little bit more on what it means for the Philippines. If you do want to read more about it, there are a lot of great articles you can read via the link below!

What 1.5°C means for the Philippines


As a developing nation, the Philippines, together with other nations from the global south, are holding the short end of the stick. While we also produce a significant amount of carbon emissions, it is a far cry from those of bigger global powers such as the United States and China whose decisions can spell the difference between a secured future and a climate crisis in the Philippines.


Photos by Kids for Kids PH

Annually, the Philippines gets hit by a minimum of 20 typhoons, and each year we experience an increasing intensity of destructive rains and winds. Our people, especially those who live in vulnerable areas, suffer the brunt of a crisis they contributed nothing to. Unfortunately, provincial incidents like the ones in Agusan are seldom reported on by the mainstream media, resulting in a lack of assistance - if any at all. With the current pace of climate negotiations, these are only expected to get worse with coastal cities expected to be underwater by as early as 2050.

Photo by Manila Bulletin

Corals are also no strangers to climate change, with coral bleaching occurring with an increase of as little as a 1C. This causes corals to die and leaving fishes with less shelter to breed. The International Panel on Climate Change estimates that by 2051, Philippine fisheries are expected to decline by 50%. This is most unfortunate as the Philippines is part of the Coral Triangle, a crucial area with the largest and most diverse coral reefs in the world.

These occurrences, together with a plethora of other negative effects would ultimately leave our country vulnerable and will even cause our GDP to decline by 6% annually in the year 2100.


What is the PH doing about it?

Last April, the Philippines ratified our Nationally Determined Contribution in compliance with the Paris Agreement in 2015. This together with other existing programs such as the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) 2011-2028, aims to guide the country's long-term development plan towards a climate-resilient and low-carbon future.

Photo by Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities


This document states that the Philippines is committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 from a current estimate of total emissions of 3,340.3 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MMTCO2e). For comparison, the US emitted 5,285 MMTCO2e in 2019 alone.
The big problem of this commitment however lies in the details. Out of this 75% reduction, 72.29% is conditional on receiving financing from developed counties.


What can the PH hope for from COP26?

One of the key points of the Paris agreement in 2015 is that developed countries should compensate the nations most affected by climate change. However, details were not finalized then, so is what they hope to layout in COP26 - a clearer set of guidelines and frameworks on how this climate financing would work. This would greatly help developing nations like the Philippines fulfill climate commitments, and help in disaster resilience and risk management efforts.


The reality however is more complicated. Currently, the Philippine delegation is being questioned for the lack of coordination and consultation with NGOs and other members of the civil sector for negotiating positions. As of writing, it is unclear whether a climate change official would be attending the event. This segment will be updated.


On a lighter note, these civic groups have sent a separate delegation of over 20 people that seek to give a voice and perspective of how this climate crisis is affecting our country.


Delegates discussing the Ditas Muller Memorial Climate Conversations (DMCC). Photo by Joy Reyes
According to the civic group convener and director of Living Laudato Si PH, Rodne Galicia, "".

 

Tune In. Start the conversation.

All of this might seem overwhelming and scary, but we need to keep talking about it. Tell your friends what's at stake for us, not just for this COP, but even beyond.

We've asked the help of one of our friends, Joy Reyes, a climate lawyer present in COP26. She will show you what's happening on the ground! Follow her via @jamjoyreyes on Instagram. We've also provided more links below on other resources to learn more about COP26. It also has a list of people you can follow to get a better understanding of what's happening there.

On a final note, romanticizing COP26 as our savior will only spell disappointment. To hope for Russia to stop its plans for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic ocean would be as good as hoping money will grow on a tree. The reality is that, while countries want climate action, leaders are also accountable to other  stakeholders.

What we should expect is for a lot of the work to come after COP26. Think of it more as a symbol that places a north star on what is possible. We hope that this would give a good mandate for countries and people to work together, keep updating their carbon reduction targets and urgently just get the work done.

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