Manila – Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), 350.org Pilipinas, and Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (KPNE) staged a protest action at the Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) office in Makati City today to demand that the bank stop funding coal-fired power plants and other environmentally destructive projects in the Philippines and around the world. This was done as part of the Global Climate Strike and #CleanUpStandardChartered campaign, initiated by the Fridays for Future international climate movement sparked by Greta Thunberg, calling for an end to all investments in the fossil fuel industry and to say #NoMoreEmptyPromises to world leaders and key players.
“Standard Chartered Bank, stop funding our destruction! You poured over 1.8 billion USD into coal monsters, Aboitiz Equity Ventures and San Miguel Corporation through Top Frontier Investment Holdings, in our country. Do you understand the pain that you bring to Filipinos? We have lived through the heartache and devastation of the climate crisis. What you’re doing with coal is fueling the crisis and is taking away my future and the future of all Filipino youth.” said Mitzi Jonelle Tan, international spokesperson of YACAP. “Enough empty promises. Across the nation and the planet, the youth, alongside the most impacted communities, are standing up against this injustice. If you’re really “here for good” like you say in your slogan, then divest from coal. Choose the people and planet over the profit.”
Alongside the protest in Makati, on-ground mobilizations were also held by other youth and grassroots organizations in other parts of the country, some of which are continually affected by SCB-funded projects. These included actions in Pangasinan, Batangas, Leyte, Misamis Oriental, and Metro Manila.
“We’re striking in my city today because we’re the ones directly affected by all these dirty businesses Standard Chartered is funding,” said Aldrich Macatangay, a member of YACAP from Batangas City. “Standard Chartered, if you don’t listen to our demands now, remember us as the people you’re willingly turning your backs on even when we’re standing here, clearly and explicitly underlining what we want and why we need this. Remember us as the people you’re trading in to deepen your pockets with more money. We’ll remember you, and the world will remember you. All you’re doing is fueling our anger.”
Activists participating in the #CleanUpStandardChartered campaign plan in the short term to stop the bank from financing companies that participate in the coal industry, and in the long term to have the bank phase out all fossil fuel financing. The effects of fossil fuel-driven climate change has already affected entire nations across the globe, including the Philippines, which was battered by four typhoons last year in the span of a month; one of them, Typhoon Rolly, was the strongest storm landfall in recorded history.
“The catastrophic effects of climate change can already be felt all across the globe, and the very people who are standing at the frontlines of environmental defense and are struggling for their voices to be heard are the ones who are continually targeted, harassed, vilified, and even killed,” said Eco Dangla, Convenor of the Pangasinan People’s Strike for the Environment. “If we’re to construct a solid, sustainable, and just climate policy, it is an absolute necessity to include and ensure the rights and welfare of our environmental defenders, who are often also part of the most vulnerable, marginalized, and exploited sectors of society. “
“So many plans and promises have been made, but we have yet to see those plans crystallize into concrete, effective, and immediate steps towards mitigating the effects of climate change,” said Xian Guevarra, national coordinator of YACAP. “The climate emergency is an emergency – and we need to start treating it like one. With the continued extraction and investment in fossil fuels, the prioritization of the wallets of the few, and the perpetuation of empty promises, however, humanity’s battle with the climate crisis is far from being resolved.”