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Flipping the Philippine climate curve: Can we halve our emissions in 9 years?

October 8, 2021 blog-post climate-action climate-change development

As a developing country that contributes only half a percent of global annual emissions but will be badly hit by climate impacts, how important is it for the Philippines to reduce its emissions and by how much? What reduction targets has the government set, and how does this align with the science? How do our current and projected emissions compare to these targets? And what will it take to get us on track?

We looked at data published by several climate policy research groups including Climate Action Tracker (CAT), the Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology (CREST), Climate Watch, and the Philippine government’s own Climate Change Commission. However, these aren’t the easiest numbers to digest, so we used visualizations to help make them more accessible and put them into a more meaningful context.

Spoiler alert: While the Philippines does have very ambitious emission reduction targets that are aligned with keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees, we are way off track from achieving these.

Getting closer to the 1.5 pathway will require disruptive, society-wide, warp-speed, expertly coordinated action throughout every level and branch of government, industry, and society.

The numbers are daunting and we don’t know if achieving our targets is even possible. But we do know that every ton of emissions we can prevent or reduce will keep global temperature rise as low as possible, and that decoupling our economic growth from fossil fuels makes sense and could even be kind of awesome. We also know that the first step to action is getting clear-eyed about where we stand and where we need to be. If you’re new to the climate space, here are some ways to get started:

  1. Get educated about climate. Learning may not seem like an “action,” but you can’t solve a problem you don’t understand. Some resources that are good starting points for learning about climate:

  2. Find or follow a climate action tribe. Making personal lifestyle changes is a starting point, but climate change demands systemic, wide-scale action. We recommend supporting or joining some climate advocacy communities. Even just following and amplifying their messages on social media is a great first step:

    • The Climate Reality Project, founded by Al Gore, is a non-profit that trains and empowers ordinary individuals — students, professionals, teachers, volunteers — to be climate leaders in their own communities. In the Philippines, there are 1,200 trained Climate Reality Leaders in an active community.
    • Terra.do, ClimateAction.tech, and Work on Climate are international communities of professionals seeking to apply their careers to the climate crisis. If you work in technology in particular, this is a good place to start to see how others are using technology for solutions.
    • Fridays for Future and Youth Advocates for Climate Action are youth-led climate activist movements whose climate strikes have helped raise climate change on the political agenda.

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