In celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace, the Ateneo de Davao University, together with Davao Association of Catholic Schools (DACS), conducted a dialogue on Conference of Parties (COP) 26 and Mindanao’s Common Future entitled “Pathways to the Earth’s Future: Philippine Commitments to harmonious healing of people and planet.”
According to Ecoteneo Director Carmela Santos, to bring to life the Paris Agreement’s goal, the world has come together in Glasgow for the COP 26 meetings in the last five years.
The primary intent is to go below the 1.5°C increase in global warming, stay away from the tipping point, and allow humanity to survive climate change.
“We hope to reflect on our own commitments for Mindanao on what we ask from the government, and what we can do to help the government prioritize and protect the Mindanao environment, and be responsive to the needs of its people, especially our Lumads, farmers, and youth,” she said.
Philippine delegation on the COP26 discussions
Neil Adrian Cabiles, Ph.D. Representative of the Philippine Delegation to COP26 shared that the delegation has prioritized specific workstreams: sustainable finance, adaptation, loss, and damage, Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, and coordination with peers under the G77 and China group.
Cabiles further discussed that in COP26, the delegation raised a point that the Philippines only contributes 0.03 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, yet, it is the fourth most vulnerable or most affected country to climate change.
“This points out the great need for the Philippines to actually receive support for climate change adaptation and mitigation projects,” he said.
The International Finance Group Director said they came to the COP26 with the Philippine delegation expecting the meeting to be a platform for concrete climate action and calling for a framework on climate justice.
“We call on wealthier states or developed countries who have contributed the most to greenhouse gas emissions and continue to do so, to be the ones to bear the costs of pursuing more carbon-neutral forms of development,” Cabiles said.
The director also explained G77, China groups, proposed concept on climate finance, and Santiago Network.
COP26 impacts on peace in Mindanao
Cabiles said that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) raised two points: conflict impacts climate actions, and billions of dollars in climate finance are programmed in countries suffering conflict and fragility.
The representative shared that climate financing to vulnerable areas such as the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao can help bridge peace and development.
“It would also reduce the feeling of being marginalized and will allow people to contribute more to developing a strong society and to nation-building,” he added.
Cabiles emphasized that multilateral institutions have a significant role in addressing climate vulnerabilities and areas in conflict-affected areas.
He then said they are working with the Asian Development Bank, Development Bank of France, and the European Union.
“They have projects [that are] a combination of addressing conflict in Mindanao by providing livelihood, promoting peace and security, and taking into consideration climate change action,” Cabiles said.
Impacts of climate change in Mindanao
Dr. Rochelle Coronel of the Tropical Institute for Climate Studies (TroPICS) explained that Mindanaoans must focus on the sea-level rise as most of their cities are in low-elevation coastal zones.
Colonel presented the main reasons that sea level has risen in the past years: melting of glaciers and ice sheets and warming of ocean water (thermal expansion).
“According to the experts, in the future, the Davao Gulf will experience one meter to five-meter sea level rise,” she said.
Considering the worst-case scenario, most populated areas and commercial areas of Davao City will be underwater if the Davao Gulf experiences a five-meter sea level rise.
The director further shared that the global average temperature has been increasing since the Industrial Revolution due to human activities.
Answering why Mindanaoans should bother about the changing climate, Coronel explained that the Philippines is predominantly an agricultural sector, and Mindanao is the food basket of our country.
“Our rice is very sensitive to the temperature. For example, if there is one celsius increase in the minimum temperature during the growing season, rice yield would possibly decrease by ten percent,” she said.
Coronel emphasized that there will be an increase in disasters like intense typhoons, hefty rain, enhanced monsoons, and frequent droughts in a globally warmer world.
Talking about food security and agriculture, Leo XL Fuentes, Jr. MASIPAG Mindanao Coordinator, emphasized the need to shift to a more sustainable food system and advance agroecology.
“We need to strengthen and develop climate-resilient varieties that are not dependent on chemicals,” he said.
The coordinator explained that to ensure food security amidst the climate crisis, there is a need to strengthen the local food system and deglobalize and re-localize food systems.
Furthermore, AdDU Center Renewable Energy and Appropriate Technologies (CREATE) Director Nelson Enano said that the Philippines promised to reduce 75 percent emissions, but only 2.71 percent is unconditional, and the 72.29 percent is conditional.
Engineer Enano emphasized a need for technological and policy innovations to integrate more renewable energy.
He also emphasized the need to invest in Wind, Solar, Biomass, Hydro, Geothermal, Tidal (almost on the commercial scale), and Concentrated solar power technologies.
The last discussant, Dr. Germelino Bautista of Joint Ateneo Institute for Mindanao Economics (JAIME), said that individuals must cease all fossil fuels and natural gas from the ocean and land for humans to at least lessen the problem.