July 26, 2021
His last SONA was held as the country continues to struggle with the twin crises of the pandemic and climate change, and it could have been an opportune moment to bolster support in advancing the climate agenda and promoting a green and resilient COVID-19 recovery.
It’s quite perplexing, as he has acknowledged the urgency of climate action in his previous SONAs—during the first one, where the President said that climate change is an administration priority, and in his subsequent one, where he directed to reduce our country’s dependence on fossil fuels. But in his final SONA, where he is supposed to highlight his priorities for his remaining days in office, we hear none, only clean-up projects, which masquerade as environmental protection and which are remotely considered as climate action initiatives.
When President Duterte mentioned how the rains have affected the rollout of vaccines and the safety of our people, as well as the white sand beach in Manila Bay, he almost spoke of the need to adapt or cope with climate impacts that hinder the delivery of priority services and devastate our resources.
There is tremendous expectation from the leader of our highly vulnerable country, which has tirelessly championed for climate justice and the 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming limit of the Paris Agreement. We have hoped to build more momentum in our call—especially for the upcoming climate negotiations this November—to hold the developed countries more accountable to this climate crisis, to significantly reduce global carbon emissions, and for our increased access to climate finance, technologies, and capacity development to build resilience from climate risks and hazards, and not just from disasters.
As the President said, this is his final SONA, but not his swan song. We expect and hope for his support to the climate agenda and movement, especially for our youth and the climate leaders across our regions who share the vision and goal for a better and much more resilient Philippines, planet, and future.