'Fight alongside us’

Mitzi Jonelle Tan is a full-time climate justice activist with Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines - the Fridays for Future of the Philippines. Photo: Richard Rolfs.

'Fight alongside us’

Mitzi Jonelle Tan is a full-time climate justice activist with Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines - the Fridays for Future of the Philippines. Tan is also an organiser with Fridays for Future international. Read our interview with Mitzi here!

In this series, activists from the Global South share their perspectives on Norway and rich countries’ role in sustainable development, and how civil society from around the world can stand together in the fight for a just and sustainable planet.

What has Norway and other wealthy countries’ role been in the past 30 years? Do they have a greater responsibility to contribute to a just global future than other countries?

Countries that have historically contributed the most to the climate crisis, like Norway, have a bigger responsibility to address the climate crisis. Keeping in mind that it shouldn't be the working class of these countries that carry the biggest burden of that responsibility but rather - the fossil fuel industry, the multinational companies, the banks, the richest of the country, and the government.

How does Norwegian policies affect sustainable development in your country?

Weapons and military equipment have ended up in the Philippines. Our country is one of the most dangerous in the world for environmental defenders and activists and it is often the Philippine military that threatens the lives and livelihoods of these frontline communities. As well as the ongoing civil war in the country, the Norwegian weapons have been used against unarmed civilians who the military has tagged as terrorists. Fishing subsidies and neoliberal trade agreements have also led to large-scale overfishing and negative impacts on the livelihood of small-scale fisherfolk. As Norway continues to produce oil and invest in fossil fuels, the Philippines - one of the most vulnerable and at risk to the climate crisis, will continue to bare the brunt of this climate inaction.

What can and should Norway and other countries in the global North do to ensure global justice, including climate and environmental justice, in the next 30 years?

Norway and the Global North must phase out fossil fuels and stop investing in fossil fuels across the world. The International Energy Agency has already shown that we cannot have any more new and expansion of the fossil fuel industry to stay within the 1.5 degrees C limit. The just transition in the Global North must begin. This can all start by having these countries endorse the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is also important that Global North countries pay climate reparations to the south. This means climate finance in the form of grants and not loans, as reparations and not as aid, for Loss and Damage, adaptation, and mitigation. But it cannot stop at money, we need to have technology transfer and policies to ensure that in the just transition to renewable energy, no one is left behind.

What can and should we as Norwegian civil society do to contribute to the needed changes for the future?

To the Norwegian civil society: we need you to fight alongside us. Pressure your national leaders and close down the fossil fuel industries in your country. Be in solidarity with our struggles and fight in the Philippines to put a stop to environmentally destructive projects in the form of mega-mining or logging by Norwegian multinational companies. Our liberations are tied together. The climate crisis is a global one and we need to link arms and unite in order to build a better world for everyone.

What are the largest challenges in your region when it comes to sustainability, climate change, human rights and global justice?

The Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental defenders and activists. This is a big challenge especially when activists are calling for accountability and action from the national government to address the climate crisis. Mega-mining, dump and fill and dredging projects, and mega-dams are all environmentally destructive projects that are making us more vulnerable to the climate crisis and impacting the livelihoods and lives of our most marginalized peoples. A very concrete example of this was in 2016 in Kidapawan, Philippines, small farmers protested calling for aid after devastating droughts left them with no crops for the season, and they were met with bullets by state forces.