Photos from the APMDD page
‘What we want? Climate justice; When do we want it? Now!’
A strong sense of urgency led the chant, followed by continued calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
It was the largest demonstration at the UN Climate Summit in Dubai. Leading the march of 2,000 protesters was a young climate activist from the Philippines: Pang Delgra, 28, who works as a member of the climate justice team at the Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD).
“Climate justice is anchored in the protection of human rights,” Delgra told Khaleej Times, explaining why environmental activists were not only calling for an end to fossil fuels but also for an end to Israeli bombing in Gaza.
“If we talk about climate change, bombs and bullets are actually more lethal than floods and global warming. And we cannot deny the fact that those who support wars – not only in Gaza – are also the biggest polluters in the world,” he added.
Delgra, who stands just five feet tall, has a fiery voice and demeanor that can agitate protesters. She further explained: “When we call for climate justice or the responsibility of large developed nations in global warming, we are also raising their culpability in supporting wars of aggression.”
“Take the United States, for example: it has pledged a paltry $17 million to the Loss and Damage Fund to protect vulnerable communities, but supported Israel with billions of dollars in war funds.”
“Where is there justice in that?” stressed Delgra, who was wearing a keffiyeh and a red shirt that said: “System change, not climate change.”
Watch a video of the protest here:
(Video by Ángel Tesorero)
Delgra admitted that it may seem too radical for conservatives. But his liberal thinking did not emerge from nowhere.
He finished Business Administration at the University of the Philippines – Diliman, the largest university in his home country, and worked for a multinational company.
It was there that he saw how “the rich exploit and oppress the poor in the name of profit.”
She left her job in 2018 and joined the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an international non-governmental organization based in Switzerland that works for environmental preservation, before moving to APMDD as part of its climate justice staff.
His environmental awareness, however, began when he was in elementary school. “It was in 2006 and our 4th grade teacher made us watch Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and that made me aware of not throwing trash anywhere,” she said.
“But I felt like it wasn’t enough. I realized there were bigger issues than just being litter-aware. So I started asking myself questions: why are glaciers melting? Who is really responsible for global warming and environmental degradation? All liabilities fall at the feet of great nations like the United States,” she added.
“Then I said to myself: ‘Something has to be done. We could not limit ourselves to hoping for the best and the supposed benevolence of the exploiting countries. If we want them to act, we must pressure them to do so,” Delgra continued.
“If we don’t act, who will? If not now, when?” Delgra added, citing a favorite activist mantra for urgent action.
When asked if he considered the activism of large corporations to be futile, Delgra said: “On the contrary, we have put them on the defensive and exposed them for their aggression. We have seen that when people come together for a cause, reforms occur.”
“The Loss and Damage Fund that was put into operation in Dubai is the result of our collective action. We have worked before and throughout the year after its presentation during COP27 in Egypt. Now there is a real fund that would support vulnerable communities,” Delgra said.
He added: “At COP28, we have seen collective action in action. It was the first time he led a large crowd of protesters who came from various countries and different political persuasions. And, in fact, it reinforced my belief that I was doing the right thing for the environment and people.”
“I see myself continuing to fight for climate justice and human rights.”
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