‘The youth need to have a stronger voice in the climate talks. They will bear the brunt of climate change impacts which will be felt for years to come.’

SINGAPORE – The youth and climate change, is it a good combo?

Six national delegates from the Philippines attended the ASEAN Powershift Conference held at the University World College of South East Asia in Singapore from July 24 to 26. The conference, organized by 350 Singapore, gathered more than 100 youth delegates from the ASEAN region who worked together to create a regional policy paper on climate. The paper will be submitted to the Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris in December.

“As one of the most vulnerable regions in the world, it is important to bring ASEAN-specific issues and corresponding commitments into light,” Beatrice Tulagan, one of the Philippine delegates, said. (WATCH: ASEAN preps for Paris talks)

“The Philippine team reiterated the human rights approach to climate change, emphasizing quite a number of times that one cannot reduce the most vulnerable communities to a lazy statistic and there is a moral imperative for the ASEAN Youth Paper to highlight this unfortunate reality,” Tulagan added.

The Philippines has always been at the top of the list of countries most vulnerable to climate change. The country has experienced climate change impacts such as extreme weather events, El Nino, warming waters, and rising sea levels. Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the strongest typhoon to make landfall in history, left more than 6,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands without homes and livelihood.

“After experiencing climate impacts first hand and working directly with the most vulnerable communities who have lost homes and livelihoods in the wake of natural disasters, I look forward to seeing a legally binding treaty come to be,” Erin Sinogba, also a Philippine delegate, said.

The COP21 which will be held in Paris this December is expected to come up with a legally binding treaty among countries to address climate change and its impacts. Countries are also expected to commit to keeping global warming below two degrees celsius relative to pre-industrialization through their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). The INDC reflects each country’s ambition for reducing carbon emissions, one of the major causes of climate change.

Among countries in the ASEAN region, only Singapore has submitted their INDC commitments. The Philippines, meanwhile, through the Climate Change Commission, has opened the INDC for consultation until August 10.

“We call on the Philippine government to urgently prepare an ambitious and a strong INDC and to legislate and strictly implement laws that will help our country address climate change, such as RA No. 10174 or People’s Survival Fund,” said Napoleon Paris, another Philippine delegate.

The role of youth in climate talks and in pushing countries take climate action was highlighted during the conference. According to His Excellency Dr AKP Mochtan, Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN for Community and Corporate Affairs, “the youth has much at stake, because the youth has much future to live.”

“The youth need to have a stronger voice in the climate talks. They will bear the brunt of climate change impacts which will be felt for years to come. Global leaders should always remember that what they will decide on in Paris will be a decision which will impact the lives of young people today and the future generation,” Rodne Galicha from Climate Reality Project and adviser of the youth delegates, said.

As the rest of the world waits for global leaders to take climate action, the youth of the Philippines, together with the youth of other ASEAN countries, are ready to make a stand and fight for climate justice.

Other Philippine delegates who were part of the ASEAN Powershift were Mark Ravanzo, Jan Michael Rase, and Aj Platero. – Rappler.com