'We are not drowning. We are fighting.'

Reflections on Climate Justice ahead of COP21

In this month’s “Voices from the South,” we lift up the speech held by Marjorie Pamintuan of Karibu partner Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN), which was given at the "People's Climate March" in Oslo. In it, she speaks of the effects of climate change on the poorest of the poor, the connections between extractive industries and free trade deals with climate change, and the need to rise together in the fight for climate justice.  The text and video are found below.

By: Marjorie Pamintuan
Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN), the Philippines

Greetings of Peace and Solidarity from the Global South!

I come from the Philippines, a country that is yearly devastated by strong typhoons caused by the rising of global temperatures.

Incidentally these deadly typhoons have the habit of hitting my country right before our world leaders come sit together at the Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP). There was Ketsana and Parma in 2009, right before COP15, Megi in 2010, Washi in 2011, Bopha in 2012, Haiyan in 2013 (one of the strongest storms of 2013), Ramamasun in 2014, Koppu in 2015...

I come from a region plundered by corporations, through trade and investment deals designed to reestablish colonial-like relations where corporations from developed countries come to take advantage of our people’s lives and labor made cheap by extreme inequality and exploitation. They come to grab our lands for gold, copper, and oil; they raze our forests to the ground, and replace them with palm oil plantations. They dam our rivers to damn our communities to droughts and flooding. All of this to feed their insatiable thirst for super profits.
Year in and year out, we have been pleading our leaders to come up with a meaningful climate deal that will cut carbon emissions at rates that will once again support life on the planet.

We have been demanding northern governments to pay the climate debt they have incurred through their unsustainable and exploitative production and consumption practices.

We have long been fighting for a just and equitable trade architecture that is not based on unbounded extraction of our world’s resources, that allows local economies to flourish, and enable peoples to live a life of dignity.

We have proposed solutions that will lead the way to saving the people and planet from the multiple crises we are now facing.

Yet, year in and year out, these so-called leaders sit inside comfortable meeting rooms pursuing endless debates which would have been already solved if only, if only they started listening more to us, the people that they are supposed to represent rather than the corporations.

This they do  while climate refugees from the Pacific Islands and Bangladesh flee the rising waters that are engulfing their homes and communities, while Syrians brave the dangerous Mediterranean to escape conflict of which climate change is one of the key factors.

This they do while hundreds of thousands of people suffer and die from the consequences of their inaction.

And what have they given to all of us? They’ve given more of the same old recipe that have brought us to our present situation in the first place, and even worse!
They’ve given us the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), and are about to give us a weak climate deal that will not save the planet from catastrophe.

They have given up the sovereign rights of the people to chart their own path of development, their right to control their own resources, to the hands of corporations through the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

They’ve given up democracy itself to corporate power, to the world’s 1%, who are out to further kill the climate in the interest of unbounded profit!

And they are willing to enforce this world order, by pointing their guns and war machines at the innocent the most vulnerable and by creating a climate of fear and insecurity, to coerce us into submission.

Yet, as the pacific islanders would say: “We are not drowning, we are fighting.” We will not be fooled by their deceptions, their false solutions and we will certainly not submit to their intimidations.

From the farmers of Asia fighting land grabs by agricultural corporations, to the Pacific Islanders blocking coals ports in their traditional canoes, to the people of Norway fighting against new oil explorations, we are rising, fighting for climate justice.

Together united we the people will never be defeated for we have a future, and we have a world to win.

Climate justice NOW! ■

Marjorie Pamintuan in the General Secretary of the Asia Pacific Research Network.   She can be reached at:

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Posted by Karibu Foundation - Last updated 30.11.2015