Good governance must address climate change issues, says bishop

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/15 November)–Good governance must also address issues on climate change, Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan told participants at the launching Thursday of Barog Bukidnon (Rise Bukidnon), a group advocating for good governance in Bukidnon.

Cabantan, named to head the Bukidnon Watershed and River Basin Forum in January 2012, stressed that climate change is not only about economics and politics but “it also boils down to stewardship of God’s creation.”

“It is about how responsible we are in fulfilling our duties as stewards. Let’s ask if we are upholding the universal distribution of earthly goods,” he said in his inspirational talk at the program’s launching.

Rorie Fajardo, national coordinator of the Citizens Action Network for Accountability (CANA) and representatives from civil society organizations, government, media and indigenous peoples were among those who graced the launching.

Cabantan said that “solving an environmental problem requires organizing and educating people.”

He noted that climate change is a challenge for everyone, especially to the United Nations and the countries that do not conform to the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits its parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets.

Adopted on December 11, 1997 and became effective in 2005, the Kyoto Protocol recognizes that developed countries are “principally responsible for the current high level of green house gas emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity.”

The Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”

But some countries like the United States, which signed the protocol in 1998, did not ratify it.

Describing it as a “big injustice,” Cabantan said people in the Philippines and other vulnerable countries bear the burden of calamities brought by decisions made by those in highly industrialized countries.

He affirmed Philippine climate envoy Naderev ‘Yeb’ Sano’s call to finally “stop this madness,” referring to climate change. Cabantan agreed that climate change is not a natural calamity especially with people struggling to survive poverty.

Sano was the lead delegate of the Philippines to the UN’s 19th Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland who made an emotional appeal to end climate change and vowed to go on hunger strike in solidarity with the hunger of Filipinos in provinces hit by super typhoon “Yolanda.”

Cabantan said that climate change is not separate from good governance because if people fulfill their responsibilities as stewards, then they don’t abuse the environment.

The bishop said that addressing climate change as part of good governance should be a task not just for the national government but also the barangay, town or city and provincial governments.

“Each level must be consistent in their work to address climate change,” he added.

Cabantan said the launching of the good governance advocacy group Barog Bukidnon is consistent with the church’s focus on the “Year of Faith” and its work on social justice. Among the group’s focus is on environment, health and governance. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)