By Brian James Lu

Climate change mitigation: The role of the Filipino youth

The Philippines is currently experiencing a sort of heat wave with areas under the “danger” classification, with temperatures ranging from 42°C to 45°C. As a result, affected areas have adapted asynchronous learning, where students can study at home with the guidance of their teachers using the Internet.

This is the first time that the Philippines has experienced such a phenomenon. In the past, students had to contend with the rainy season, which caused flooding and other inconveniences. The Department of Education (DepEd) rectified the situation by moving the start of classes to August. Now, the Department of Education is pushing for a gradual return of the opening of classes to June through a transition period.

It is a pity that our children are experiencing the hottest period in our history. Of course, they are aware of global warming, climate change, catastrophic storms such as Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), and floods that have not typically occurred in recent years.

It is crucial to educate students and Filipinos about the dangers of climate change and the fundamentals of adapting to it. They need to be involved in reversing global warming and not contributing to its further escalation.

Global warming is an international phenomenon that affects all nations on Earth. According to the United States Geological Survey, or USGS, global warming refers to the rise in global temperature due mainly to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Climate change refers to the increasing changes in the measures of climate over a long period of time, including precipitation, temperature, and wind patterns. The USGS clarifies that global warming is just one aspect of climate change.

Various scientific studies show that our planet is getting hotter. Since the Industrial Revolution, Earth has warmed by 1°C. The year 2023 was the hottest on record. Given the current situation where local government units are suspending classes or converting to asynchronous methods, I am not surprised if 2024 becomes the hottest year ever. Climate change is an issue for all of humanity. Global warming affects every living thing on Earth, and there is no turning back once the Earth reaches the warming level of 2°C.

Currently, we are experiencing drought in various provinces that threatens the livelihoods of farmers and increases the country’s food insecurity. Forest fires in the Cordillera Region have intensified this year, disrupting tourism and farming activities. Fires in residential areas in major urban cities have become more frequent, displacing thousands of people.

The need to mitigate global warming is as important as ever. Our students, having experienced class suspensions or going back to the pandemic method of teaching, must be active participants in struggling against climate change. It is now or never considering that they are the next generation to face nature’s wrath if global warming continues.

It is important that students, especially youths, increase their awareness of climate change and its effects so they can contribute to its mitigation. There are many things that they can do, including the following:

--Participate in education workshops and seminars on climate change or environmental concerns in their community. Perhaps the school can organize such activities. Awareness of the consequences of climate change is the first step for the students to take. Small household activities, such as waste segregation, can have an important impact on the environment.

--There is a need for awareness campaigns in schools and communities. The activities can include poster-making and using social media to spread information about climate change and its effects.

--Community clean-up drives to help reduce pollution and waste in local environments. Some of the activities include beach clean-ups, parks, or neighborhood clean-ups. Adults mostly conduct clean-up drives in some communities. It is crucial to involve students or the younger population in community clean-up drives to promote environmental awareness.

--Tree planting initiatives. Trees are important to mitigate global warming. Trees are also known to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide many other environmental benefits. There are still many areas that need planting and re-planting. Local government units can spearhead students in their area to plant trees and let the communities nurture the trees to ensure that they grow and develop.

--We must encourage school or community-based gardening. Vegetable gardens can teach students about sustainable agriculture, food production, and the importance of biodiversity in mitigating climate change.

--Students can also engage in lobbying by writing to their leaders (politicians, community leaders, and businesses, among others) to enact policies that advocate policies on environmental concerns, promote renewable energy, and protect natural habitat.

Indeed, there are numerous activities available for youth and students to participate in within schools and communities. Teachers can spearhead the activities inside and outside the community to involve a larger number of the population.

Local government units represent the Sangguniang Kabataan, or SK, a youth organization. While sports events are important for the development of youth, the SK may take an advanced role in promoting climate change awareness in their respective communities.

The Philippines is adjudged to be one of the countries in the world that has practiced youth and children’s participation since the inception of the SK. I think our youth can play an important role in climate change mitigation and adaptation by spearheading activities that can raise awareness among their peers. At the end of the day, the Filipino youth may continue to become the “pag-asa ng bayan,” as our national hero has said.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.


About the Columnist

Image of Brian James Lu

BRIAN JAMES J. LU, MMgt, is an entrepreneur, business adviser, government consultant, and is deeply involve in civil society organizations. He advocates good governance, ethical business practices, and social responsibilities. He is the President of the National Economic Protectionism Association (NEPA) and Chairman of the Foundation for National Development (Fonad). His broad experiences in the private and public sectors give him a unique perspective to advance his advocacies.