JSAPMDD held two workshops as part of the week-long activities of the Social Movements for an Alternative Asia and the Indonesian National Coalition against Neoliberalism and Imperialism/Gerak Lawan which were timed with the 9th Ministerial of the World Trade Organization in Bali, Indonesia. The Global Week of Action from December 1-6, 2013 brought together peoples’ organizations and movements from different countries who highlighted the adverse impacts on people and communities, livelihoods and the environment of the corporate-ruled, free trade regime and resoundingly called for an end to the WTO. (See http://smaa.asia/action-plan-and-roadmap-to-bali/ and http://smaa.asia/endwto/gerak-lawan-social-movements-for-an-alternative-asia-will-take-to-the-street-on-the-opening-of-the-wtos-9th-ministerial-in-bali/ for more details)
The JSAPMDD-organized Forum on Trade and Climate Justice on December 5 made the the connections between trade and the climate crisis. It called attention to critical areas and issues for action and surfacing unities for coordinated advocacy and campaigning in the region.
The Freedom from Debt Coalition(FDC) goes on its third day of its Tatakan/Sulatan ng GANID the MERALCO bills protest activity today at 10 am before the MERALCO Kamuning, Quezon City Branch.
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FDC is calling on all consumers to express their outrage over the new power rate hike by writing or stamping on their MERALCO bills the word GANID ( Greed to Express Corporate Greed ). FDC also joins the initiative to wage a protest online through social media.
FDC welcomes the investigations by both houses of Congress into the highest MERALCO power rate hike so far but also warns of a trend in the ongoing official discussions on the issue to exculpate MERALCO and focus the inquiry only into the possible collusion by the major power plants in Luzon which went on almost simultaneous shutdowns along with the Malampaya maintenance shutdown this November-December period.
FDC also calls on the public to be especially critical of proposals coming from Malacanang and Congress to use the Malampaya fund to cover the new price increases. "This in effect will subsidize MERALCO's superprofits, not the consumers, who together with the entire Filipino people own Malampaya and who alone should benefit from royalties and other earnings which compose the Malampaya Fund," said Ricardo B. Reyes, FDC President.
Reyes also added that "MERALCO has not yet leveled even with the House Energy Committee hearing as to why the cost accruing from the Malampaya maintenance shutdown which is scheduled is not built into the power cost and the power rate in its Power Supply Agreement ( PSA ) with the natural gas power plants. Without this, MERALCO contracted imprudently and must bear the additional cost, not the consumers . It is interesting to note that trhe MERA:CO CEO, Oscar Reyes, failed to provide a clear answer when asked about this during yesterday's House hearing which FDC attended."
FDC said that the Congressional investigations are important because both the Energy Regulatory Commission ( ERC ) and Malacanang are now both compromised by their hasty acquiescence to the MERALCO decision. The ERC gave its go signal to the electricity price hike immediately after the MERALCO announcement without so much as conducting a public consultation, let alone a public hearing, although public interest is very much at stake here. Malacanang, through Presidential Spokesperson Sonny Coloma, also immediately justified MERALCO's moves as " reasonable " while Department of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla went out of his way to suggest that MERALCO stagger their price hike instead of finding ways to avert it. Such behavior seriously undermined the on-going DOE investigation into the power rate hike.
To the chant of “guilty, guilty, guilty!”, a “peoples’ tribunal” indicted the World Trade Organization yesterday for the “systematic violation of human rights, massive destruction of livelihoods and the environment, privatization and commodification of the commons and the violation of international law”.
The court specifically held to account and answer for widespread damages, private entities that Freeport Indonesia Ltd., PAM Lyonnais Jaya Ltd. and Aetra Air Jakarta Ltd., the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Donggi Senoro Liquid Natural Gas Ltd., Lafarge Cement Indonesia Ltd., Charoen Pokphand Indonesia Tbk., the mayor of Samarinda - Kalimantan, and corporations of coal and pesticides in Brebes, Central Java . It also decried “corporate impunity”, such that justice cannot be accessed in the current judicial system by grassroots people.
A group of Bangladeshi civil society members has urged global leaders to listen to the plights of climate victims and condemned industrialised countries for blocking a "loss and damage" mechanism in the UN climate change conference in Warsaw, Poland.
The mechanism is an arrangement that the most vulnerable countries were expecting to take shape in the conference. But it failed because of disagreement of some developed nations like Australia, Canada and Japan.
Bangladeshi civil society climate alliance asked world leaders to listen to the science and reach an agreement to save the planet from possible climate catastrophe by reducing carbon emission.
The call came at a press conference at the Warsaw National Stadium on Thursday.
In a statement, Ahsan Uddin Ahmed, on the group's behalf, said by delaying the legally binding agreement by 2015 and a road map towards climate financing of $100 billion by 2020, the developed countries were in fact giving death sentences to thousands of people of the least developed countries.
Ziaul Haque Mukta of Oxfam Asia, who moderated the press conference, criticised the attitude of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) as they were ignoring the spirit of the Kyoto Protocol by refusing to reduce their emission level.
BRICS leaders said reducing their carbon emission would hurt their development. Because of their refusal, many developed countries spoke against a new legally binding climate treaty.
Abdul Matin of BAPA criticised the colonial attitude of the rich and developed countries for not listening to the logics and even the science.
Asaduzaman of BIDS mentioned that parties in climate conference were bypassing the agriculture and sea acidification issues.
Published in The Daily Star.
Justice calls for Debt Cancellation, Climate Reparations, Not Loans
Manila, Philippines — The Freedom from Debt Coalition told the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB) to "stop hovering like vultures around a Yolanda-stricken Philippines, taking advantage of this catastrophe to suck blood profits out of our people." This is the response of FDC through its President, Ricardo Reyes, to the ADB and the World Bank loan pledges amounting to one billion dollars following the devastation of Supertyphoon Haiyan (Yolanda).
The ADB and the WB pledged loans amounting to $523M and $500M, respectively, for reconstruction and rehabilitation effort.
FDC said that Filipinos should not forget that these are the same institutions that drove our country, like many other countries of the South, deeper into debt-dependence and mal-development. Their structural adjustment programs (SAPs) – which cut public spending to basic social services – and loan conditionalities of privatization and market liberalization produced in just two decades one of the highly unequal economies of the world beset by jobless growth and massive poverty.
"This inequality and extreme poverty account for the disproportionate vulnerability of the majority population to climate-related crisis and other disasters. The poverty-stricken population and regions are the least resilient. They are the least financially capable of undertaking and sustaining disaster management and adaptation measures, such as building of sea walls, or procuring up-to-date early warning systems, or at the very least fortifying their houses so they can endure a super typhoon. Likewise, the poorest are the least materially capable to recover from the various impact of climate disasters," FDC explained.
The Philippines ranks sixth in the Climate Change Vulnerability Index, and the third most vulnerable country to disaster risks and natural hazards in the World Risk Index 2011. Climate-Change Financers
FDC also scored the IMF-WB and the ADB for their hypocrisy in claiming they have been out to fight climate change. "Far from being concerned about climate change, these IFIs are co-culprits of highly-industrialized countries and their corporate elites, with the ADB and World Bank in axis of financing climate change-inducing projects like coal and other fossil-based energy projects," FDC said.
Experts say that the power industry is a major contributor to climate change with power plants utilizing fossil fuels such as coal and diesel contributing the highest amount of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.
In the 2012 study the World Resource Institute (WRI), the WB and the ADB ranked number two and three among the top IFI funders of coal in the world, with the total funding of US5.3 billion for 29 coal plant and US3.9 billion for 21 coal plants, respectively.
In the case of the Philippines, after the ADB together with other IFIs, successfully pushed for the privatization of the power industry, the ascent of dirty energy hastened. New coal-fired power plants were built, and the capacities of existing power plants expanded. Some of these energy projects were co-financed by the WB and the ADB , like the coal-fired power plants in Masinloc, Zambales, in Calaca, Batangas and in Naga, Cebu, which they heralded as "clean and sustainable."
According to Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) data, 84% of Philippine energy is derived from fossil fuels, and as of August this year, there were 31 coal operating contracts at the development and production stage. An additional 17 coal plant projects using a total of 26 boiler facilities are in the pipeline.
Debt Cancellation, Not New Loans
FDC President Reyes said that justice for the Filipino people demands debt cancellation , especially the illegitimate ones – odious, onerous, patently illegal, violative of human rights, harmful to the people, environment and climate, and bereft of institutional processes of consent of the people.
Climate justice demands reparations to countries like the Philippines in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) principle of common but differentiated responsibility. This responsibility takes the form of grants and aid to enable the Philippines to develop resiliency to climate change and compensation for losses and damages like what it suffered from Yolanda and previous other climate change–induced natural disasters.
Reyes challenged President Aquino to lead the call for debt cancellation and climate reparations to the international community. ###