Youth leaders, lawyers launch climate actions

Bantayan Island, Cebu, The Philippines – On Earth Day,April 22, youth leaders from all over the world, backed up by top litigationlawyers, converged in Bantayan Island, Cebu. Together, they launched a seriesof socio-political and legal actions to compel to the present generation totake action act on the impacts of climate change.Climate change is an issue of intergenerational justice andequity. Frustrated by the failure of the present generation to take meaningfulaction to address the climate crisis, the youth are fired to assert theirright to a safe and healthful future by using the power of the law.
Road sharing movement in the Philippines
For ground-level action, Filipino youth leaders launched thefiling of petitions for the Road Sharing Movement. This movement calls on thePhilippine Government to transform the road and transportation system from thepresent car-based system to one that is fairer and more people-friendly.
Using a little known law on peopleʼs initiative, youngFilipino leaders, backed by their lawyers, will file petitions to directlypropose their local governments to pass an ordinance. The proposed ordinancecalls for the sharing of the road space: At least one-half of roads will be used only for path-walks and bicycle lanes, and the otherhalf for a good public transport system.
Other petitions in twenty-four barangays all over the Philippinesin Metro Manila cities, in the Visayas (Dumaguete and Cebu), and as far away asCoron, Palawan and Kidapawan in North Cotabato in Mindanao were also filed byresidents of said barangays. The barangays were all petitioned by theirresidents to share the roads to put up wide and all-weather sidewalks andbicycle lanes. It is estimated that only 2 per cent of the people in thePhilippines have motor vehicles. Yet these motor vehicles have been given allof the road space, leaving hardly any space for the 98% of the Filipinos whohave no motor vehicles. “Those who have less in wheels must have more inroads,” said the organizers.
The team of youth leaders and their lawyers are also sending out aNationwide Notice to Sue to the Philippine Government addressed to the ClimateChange Commission (CCC). The CCC is the sole policy-making body of thegovernment tasked to coordinate, monitor and evaluate the programs and actionplans of the government relating to climate change. Since its establishment in2009, the CCC has failed to pass any policies to reduce fossil fuel emissionsespecially from motor vehicles.
International acclaim
Top Filipino lawyers Tony Oposa, Sig Fortun, Golly Ramos, GenTadaba, Beryl Desabelle, Rica de Guzman, and a team of young lawyers, werejoined by international environmental lawyers Brook Meakins, Durwood Zaelke,John Boyd of the US, Selyna Pereis of Sri Lanka, Stephen Leonard of Australia,among others.
“We congratulate the Filipino people for once again showing theworld the way of a peaceful revolution. This time, they are leading arevolution of the mind,” said Durwood Zaelke, Founder of the Center forInternational Environmental Law and Director of the International Network forEnvironmental Enforcement.
“Involvement of the youth is of critical importance to addressingthese issues for the purpose of ensuring our environmental treasures areprotected for future generations,” says Australian lawyer Steve Leonard, an experton climate change impacts on world heritage sites.
Intergenerational justice
Brook Meakins, representing the International Climate Legal ActionTeam, said, “This may seem like a small pebble that was tossed into a pond. Butthe ripples that it will create will start a wonderful wave of change that theyoung of the world can learn from and perhaps, emulate.”
“Today, the youth of the Philippines, backed by theirinternational supporters and top lawyers, have launched a peaceful revolution… of the mind. This revolution will be waged with only the sword of reason,the firepower of the Law, and the violence of an idea whose time has come,”said Filipino lawyer Tony Oposa, a co-convenor of the event and member of theInternational Climate Legal Action Team.
In the coming months, youth from around the world will call ongovernments, corporations, and international institutions to protect the climate in the nameof present and future generations. The voices of youth will unite, compelling thesedecision-makers to address the intergenerational justice dimensions of climate change and holdingthem accountable for their actions and/or inactions.
(Source: Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development via ENN)

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