Spenden für die Stiftung Asienhaus

Climate Justice Talk with the Philippine Climate Advocate Mitzi Jonelle Tan

March 31, 2023 – Köln, Germany. Filipina climate advocate Mitzi Jonelle Tan, international spokesperson of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP) visited the philippinenbüro in Cologne. Tan talked about the climate justice situation in the Philippines and the challenges climate activists are facing under the current administration.

In her introduction, Mitzi Jonelle Tan discussed the climate crises at the global level and how it is impacting vulnerable countries like the Philippines. She emphasized the intersectionality of the climate crisis and how it amplifies all the existing problems many countries in the global south are experiencing such as poverty, economic disparity, gender-based issues, and even the loss of culture and identity due to rising sea level and the displacement of many communities.

The global north has to take active responsibility

In a lively discussion with twenty participants, Tan shared that the fight for climate justice is a global fight calling for huge CO2 emitters and the global north to take active responsibility on the prevailing issue. She underscored the importance of climate funds to be spearheaded by highly industrialized countries in funding climate action programs in the most affected and vulnerable areas (MAPA) around the globe, particularly developing countries in the global south that are the most affected of the climate catastrophe. Tan also gave updates on the current issues in the Philippines such as the jeepney phaseout and the recent oil spill in Mindoro.

Jeepney phaseout

The jeepney phaseout is the government plan to modernize public transportation by forcing drivers and operators with their own means to use an electric vehicle or combustion engine that complies with Euro IV emission standards. Tan reechoed the need for a just transition among jeepney drivers who are left out in the discussion. She pointed out that environment advocates and even jeepney drivers themselves are not against the transport modernization program of the Philippine government. However, the phaseout program is considered anti-poor as modern e-jeepney would force drivers and operators to cover as much as P2.8 million, a 1,767% increase in cost from traditional jeepney.  

Oil spill in Mindoro

The massive oil spill that happened on the 28th of February off the coast of Mindoro Island is one of the largest incidents of its kind in the country with devastating effects in the nearby communities, their health and livelihoods. Additionally, the oil spill has reached the protected marine biodiversity sanctuary in the region. According to Tan, the oil spill has not gained enough attention and discussion from the media as the full coverage of the oil spill is concealed by the authority from the public. Several civil society organizations have taken initiative to contain the oil spill. But without the government disclosure as to the extent of the damage and by not holding the San Miguel Corporation accountable, the subsidiary of the sunken oil tunker, more lives are at stake. YACAP has been very vocal in raising awareness at the national and international level. Tan, together with YACAP calls for donation for communities affected by the Mindoro Oil Spill.

Climate activists under threat

Unfazed of the existing threats from voicing out social problems under an authoritarian regime, Tan shared that the persisting red-tagging of activists as communists and terrorists is one of the biggest stumbling blocks of the awareness campaign. Amidst the government rhetoric against public protest, advocates have marched on to bring public awareness and pressure to authorities and non-state actors.

Role of the youth

Mitzi Jonelle Tan believes that the role of the youth in the fight towards climate justice is critical. She added that through combined efforts in organizing, creating alliances with other social justice groups, and to be in solidarity with the most affected communities, we can find our power. “It is through collective action where the power of ordinary people lies. It is [through] collaboration that gives people hope. It is in solidarity that we can aspire for a better change”, Tan encouraged the audience of different generations and diverse backgrounds that gathered in the Asienhaus and attended the discussion online.


Kevin Donaire is an intern of the Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte - Philippinen and the philippinenbüro from February to April 2023.

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