Highlights of the essay by Miguel Antonio Garcia (Philippines), who is one of the eight finalists of The World Bank Essay Competition 2009.
Climate change is a major threat to Cebu and has been responsible for widespread devastation. In his essay, Miguel begins by sharing his experiences with three local organizations dedicated to combating this threat. I will describe them briefly:
1. Clean Air Youth Alliance (CAYA) –Cebu Chapter. CAYA is a loose network of various youth organizations whose primary objective is to promote clean air and energy efficiency among households, firms, and government organizations. In Cebu, the CAYA made its mark in setting up roadside emissions testing for its anti-smoke belching campaign. It has also launched campaigns like the CAYA Kids program to raise awareness among elementary students of the effects of climate change and the role they can play to mitigate pollution.
2. Save the Tanon Strait Citizens Movement (STSCM) –This was created by a group of environmental lawyers, young professionals, academia, students, activists, and members of cause-oriented groups, in response to the escalating threat of oil drilling and exploration made by a Japanese energy company in the Tanon Strait. Apart from the carbon emissions, there has been a massive loss of biodiversity in the region, which has also led to the decrease in the livelihood of local fishermen. STSCM has also conducted an Environmental Summer School to raise awareness among the Cebu youth about this issue.
3. Carolinian Economics Society (CES) –This group recently launched an environmental theme for the Young Economists Regional Convention. Under this topic, Miguel, along with his team, researched the determinants of greenhouse emissions among OECD countries. “Results from our panel data regression showed that traditional fuels usually correlate to higher GHG emissions. On the other hand, we found out that investments in energy-efficient technologies would have a significant impact against emissions from greenhouse gases.” He also did another research which established that the Philippine stock market is sensitive to negative news about firms’ impacts on the environment. This is a very interesting find!
To provide a more integrated response to this global issue, Miguel proposes the creation of a STEP UP Plan to Climate Change that would eventually lead to the creation of a Climate Change Youth Watch.
The STEP UP Plan entails:
STEP 1: Set up a Cebu Climate Change Youth Initiative
To concentrate all efforts towards “one clear direction,” this initiative will encourage youth organizations to share their resources, and join forces to make a more visible impact through their programs and campaigns.
STEP 2: Tap Online Social Networks
To effectively use popular online social networks like Facebook and Multiply to reach out to people across the globe and try to build awareness about Cebu’s climate change problems.
STEP 3: Extend links with governments, businesses and agencies
To network with all the stakeholders in society, and build a consensus to “strengthen the voice in recommending policies.”
STEP 4: Push information to strengthen concrete climate change actions
Information campaigns are only effective if people take the requisite actions. It is also important to come up with incentives to attract the seemingly uninterested youth, to ensure 100% participation from the next generation.
STEP 5: Use the youth voice to advocate climate change reform
Supported by research, an initiative of active nonviolence can induce companies to follow environmental standards. Creative and peaceful student-led protests like those initiated by the STSCM Youth are important in ensuring companies abide by environmental laws and standards.
STEP 6: Provide Climate Change Research
Youth-led researches could greatly contribute to programs and initiatives by informing the network what to address.
Once the organization has been formed and the networks have been linked together, the Climate Change Youth Watch would serve as a research and community involvement arm that would monitor businesses, cars and rainfall, among other things. Starting as a pilot program in Cebu, Youth Watch would look into checking typhoon trends, monitoring emissions among cars and local industries, and supplementing existing enforcement mechanisms through active nonviolence, information drives, and proposal of projects among Youth Watch partners.