A billion people to change the system causing climate change

This article is available in PilipinoBisayaHiligaynon

On April 22, the 52nd Earth Day organizers aim to reach a billion people to call for urgent attention to address the planet’s health. Filipino environmental groups who have long called for the protection of the environment, natural resources and ancestral lands against local and foreign plunder, have heeded this call.

This month, Filipino activists paid attention to the 6th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released on April 4. The IPCC is tasked to assess the measures taken to lower global carbon emissions. It is under the United Nations.

According to the panel, measures taken by governments are not enough to prevent global temperatures from exceeding 2 degrees celsius, from the current 1.2 degrees celsius, in the next 20 years. In fact, it is possible that temperatures will exceed 2.7 degrees celsius since governments, in collusion with big banks and oil companies, have refused to cut down production and use of oil, coal and natural gas—the main sources of carbon dioxide emissions. This means more intense heat, fires, flooding and droughts.

Running counter to the Paris Agreement, capitalists have funded exploration and extraction of oil, coal and natural gas without let-up. From 2015 to 2021, 60 imperialist banks have poured $4.6 trillion into these enterprises, the largest of which is JP Morgan Chase ($382.40 billion,) followed by three large American banks. JP Morgan Chase is one of the biggest oil speculators and profits most from the recent spikes in crude oil prices in the international market. Coal mining, on the other hand, is mainly funded by Chinese banks.

Carbon removal is not enough to lower the global temperature, the IPCC also stated. Carbon removal technologies are “speculative” and can even have a “negative effect” on ecosystems and communities. “Natural remedies,” like planting trees are also not enough to lower temperatures. Separate studies have shown that regenerating forests through planting tree plantations are not effective and can even be harmful. At best, these should be considered as secondary measures.

In the Philippines, environmental groups also assert that we should not rely on individual efforts to prevent climate change. For a long time, it has been emphasized that people should live “sustainably” to minimize their “carbon footprint.” These measures include cycling, composting, erasing unwanted emails, using of metal straws and turning off lights when not needed. Carbon emissions dropped by a mere 17% in the middle of the global lockdown in 2020, they said. This shows that individual actions, like avoiding travel, are not enough to prevent climate change, even when done on a global scale.

“We should point out that 71% of global emission is caused by only a hundred large companies,” they said. Climate crisis is caused by capitalism and its greed for profit. They stand firm on the belief that climate change can be prevented by a system change and not solely by changes by individuals.

“To achieve a net-zero society, climate justice and social justice, international monopoly capitalism has to be dismantled.”

On April 15, Filipino activists supported the international campaign #LetTheEarthBreathe. At the same time, 1,000 climate scientists launched a campaign against banks funding oil extraction. In the US, scientists rallied in front of the JP Morgan Chase building.

A billion people to change the system causing climate change