Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development

Thousands of bikers joined climate activists in coordinated biking events held in nine Asian countries today. The biking events called Pedal for People and Planet – held in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan –  called on governments and corporations to step up climate action to save the planet from climate catastrophe.

Photo: Leo M. Sabangan II

“We want to highlight the horrific dangers of climate change, especially for Asian communities, and the many bold actions needed to address climate change. The impacts of climate change are already devastating for the people of Asia and we know that it will become much worse in the coming decades unless we stop global warming in its tracks,” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD).

In the Philippines, the bike actions were held in Metro Manila, Camarines Norte, Davao City and  Batangas. In Thailand, participants cycled in Bang Ra Kham district, an area hit by extreme flooding and droughts and the site of the first of the 13 canals funded under the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to improve the country’s climate adaptation. In Japan, the bike action was part of the Japanese protest action against the Yokosuka Coal Power Plant in Kanagawa.

“We believe that the future must be powered by the sun, the wind and the people.

Cycling as a mode of transport does not only promote clean air and reduce carbon emissions by diminishing the need fore more fossil fuel infrastructure.

More importantly it promotes freedom of movement for everyone not only to go from point A to point B but also to pursue our collective pursuit to thrive amidst the multiple crises we face.

As we celebrate Earth Day and as we face an upcoming national elections let us cast a vote for a fossil free future by choosing candidates that stand for renewable energy, sustainable transportation and inclusive mobility.”

Chuck Baclagon
Regional Finance Campaigner Asia

In Bangladesh, rickshaw drivers cycled along the coastal areas of Khulna. In Delhi and Kolkata in India, the event featured not just bikes, but also vending carts with wheels. In Nepal, bikers cycled 10 kilometers from the Heritage Site to the city area in Kathmandu, while bikers cycled along the main roads of Lahore in Pakistan.

Photo: Leo M. Sabangan II.

Nacpil said the most urgent climate action needed is the phase out of fossil fuels and replacing them with 100 percent renewable energy.

“We call for a rapid, just and equitable phaseout of fossil fuels and transition to clean energy. We need to be fossil fuel-free before 2050. At the current pace, the world will exceed 3°C of global warming by 2030. This will cause massive deaths and damage to communities, livelihoods, food systems, habitats, and economies. Science tells us, however, that limiting the rise in global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the safest temperature limit still possible, is not beyond reach. But we need systemic changes, not hollow pledges for net zero that allow for business as usual to continue,” Nacpil said.

“We call for actions that deliver climate justice to countries that are much more vulnerable to climate change and communities that are least able to prepare for, and recover from climate change impacts. We likewise reject false solutions, such as technologies that claim to neutralize the impacts of fossil fuels, as well as market mechanisms that do not deliver what is required to limit global warming and speed up the transition to 100 percent renewable sources,” said Ian Rivera, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice. 

“Developing countries have contributed the least to global warming with less than four percent of global carbon emissions. There is a huge climate debt owed to developing countries by developed countries for the damage caused by their disproportionately large contributions to climate change,” said Sreedhar Ramamurthi of Environics Trust India.

Wanun Permpibul of ClimateWatch Thailand added: “We call for reparations in the form of significant increase in the overall levels of climate finance pledges by developed countries, beyond the $100 billion a year; as well as increased finance for adaptation, and finance for loss and damage. And delaying them any further will only mean more resources are needed. We need climate finance now.”

Loss and damage pertains to the effects of climate change which cannot be avoided or adapted to. Studies indicate that by mid-century global loss and damage costs may exceed $1 trillion per year, with developing countries shouldering the majority of the burden.  

Photo: Leo M. Sabangan II.

Nacpil said the event is the first of a series of coordinated bike actions for this year: “We will continue to do this to mobilize people and amplify our calls for climate justice. The actions taken in the next few years, especially by the biggest funders of, and contributors to, climate change, will be critical to our future.”

The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that average annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels in human history in the last decade. Despite this, greenhouse gas emissions can still be halved by 2030 if countries dramatically improve energy efficiency, prevent ecosystem destruction and accelerate the deployment of renewable energy. To keep global temperature rise within the 1.5°C threshold, the world would need to use about 95% less coal, 60% less oil, and 45% less gas in 2050.

The IPCC also reported that accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, but so far progress on adaptation is uneven. And communities that have contributed the least to climate change are suffering the most. Increased heat waves, droughts and floods are already exceeding plants’ and animals’ tolerance thresholds, driving mass mortalities in species such as trees and corals. These weather extremes have exposed millions of people to acute food and water insecurity, especially in Asia, Africa, Central and South America, on Small Islands and in the Arctic.

Photo: Leo M. Sabangan II.