By Zanti Alfonso Gayares

Cartoon by Brandon Jon Delos Santos

This year’s election is indeed crucial in the climate urgency. It will encompass the next six years of environmental actions, maybe for better or for worse. With this, political candidates must have their share of environmental platforms to let people scrutinize who’s plans are fit to assure a greener future for the country. More so, with the recent calls and campaigns related to the environmental crisis, we are expected not only to delete unread emails to reduce carbon footprints and to plant trees around communities. But also, to select leaders who understand climate change and who can weather the storm in this prophesied catastrophic doom.

Recently, the campaign for #LetTheEarthBreathe surfaced on the internet following the arrest of scientists while conducting their peaceful rallies and climate strike to compel governments and leaders to act on the environmental crisis. This is rooted in the initial report released stating that the year 2025 is seen to be a critical juncture wherein the devastating impact of climate change becomes permanent if large reductions in carbon emissions are not achieved. As a reaction to the calls, youth groups and netizens advocated maneuvers. On the crucial link between the pre-electoral period and this issue, it is significant to recalibrate the plan of action of the electoral candidates who will most likely be in charge of dealing with the crisis.

In the recent debates and interviews, the candidates already cascaded their pointers and plans on various environmental challenges such as renewable energy, open-pit mining, and water and electricity sources. The forums conducted were able to reveal an open conversation about climate policy which is usually seen to be lacking in the prior debates and interviews conducted.

One of the integral plans that were cascaded on the said forum is the notion of renewable energy. The rapid shift for clean and affordable energy resources is the focal point of the discussion. Ferdinand Marcos, Panfilo Lacson, and Manny Pacquiao favor the use of nuclear power. However, this notion is the opposite for Leody De Guzman, Leni Robredo, and Isko Moreno who believe that nuclear energy is not on the priority list. Hastening the transition to renewable energy is a practical thing to consider knowing the orientation of the country in both economic and the resources itself. This will surely downgrade the cost of energy which will help Filipinos to achieve affordable resources. Moreover, the utilization of these renewable energies such as geothermal and hydropower will empower scientific-based solutions.

In addition, De Guzman and Robredo aim to achieve the retirement of the coal plants which are considered responsible for the rotating brownouts. Robredo also mentioned her plans, if elected, of installing mini-grids in remote communities and reiterated the goal of achieving carbon neutrality for 2050. Meanwhile, according to environmental group Greenpeace, Leody De Guzman has the most progressive stance on climate action. Both De Guzman and Robredo support the inclusion of climate change programs in their terms.

For Moreno, the utilization of agrovoltaic energy is one of his targets if he occupies the post. Meanwhile, Lacson aims to explore the potential energy resources in the West Philippine Sea. In support of nuclear energy, Pacquiao targets to devise floating nuclear energy plants while Marcos aims to revisit the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Plant.

Above all the plans stated, the next set of leaders is considered key players for the trajectory of the country for the climate assessment. Long-term plans such as targeting carbon neutrality in 2050 and the installation of mini-grids which were proposed by Robredo must be solidified through scientific advancements. Also, the action plan for the crisis must be able to cater to various sectors such as clean energy developers and environmental movements like expansion and financial needs of these sectors. Among the mentioned plans, it is important to consider whose plans offer long-term, urgent and systemic solutions. The elected leaders must be able to envision a democratic way of providing the solution to this crisis through collective action, cut off capitalism, confront major polluters, and act in urgency.

Likewise, opening discourse and raising environmental awareness is also crucial to mobilize reforms for the betterment of the current conditions. The solution is not solely caged to planting trees, using applications in support of environmental actions, or using eco-bags. The masses must also widen their viewpoint and commence a discussion about things such as carbon emissions, and renewable energies, and calling out those who monopolize the system wherein it fully tramples the environment due to capitalist interest and imbecile notions.

Climate crisis is an election issue we're not talking about enough. Sadly, Filipinos are at the receiving end of the devastating impacts of climate change. In this upcoming election, we must assure to vote for a leader who upholds a greener future for the country. We had enough from solutions like dolomite in Manila Bay, deforestation of mining companies, and a lot more. At this point, we vote not only for the future of our country but also for the planet.