Ahead of the much-awaited climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, our friends at 350 Pilipinas held a dragon dance at the Chinese Embassy in Manila, Philippines, rallying for Asian leadership on climate action for COP26.

The dragon dance, commonly performed during festive occasions, symbolises the need for renewal, a tone which, at this time, is needed to drive home the message that climate activists have long been stressing: the time to act is now.

A month ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China would cease funding coal-fired power plants abroad. This indeed is a potential game-changer for bold climate action as it sets valuable precedence for other countries to follow suit and meet the emissions reduction targets set in the Paris Agreement. While we all wait for further details regarding the announcement’s timeline, scope, and impact on existing fossil fuel projects, we must continue urging other major fossil fuel project supporters, especially private financiers for oil and gas in the West, to follow suit.

Fread de Mesa, 350 Pilipinas’ National Coordinator, believes that coming from one of the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of the climate crisis, doing the dragon dance highlights the call for a shared and concerted effort to respond to the climate crisis – one of the greatest challenges of our time.

The COP26 in Glasgow is the first time parties are expected to commit to bolder ambitions since the Paris Agreement in 2015. Countries are meeting at a crucial moment to push for fair, ambitious and binding emissions reduction targets under their nationally determined contributions.

China’s announcement to step up its support for other developing countries in pursuing green and low-carbon energy sets the stage for concerted climate action that focuses on ensuring our common future to thrive even as we face the impacts of the climate crisis.

Climate advocates from 350 Pilipinas held a dragon and lion dance at the Chinese Embassy in Makati, Metro Manila today October 27, 2021, to rally for Asian-led leadership ahead of the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by AC Dimatatac

350 Asia Finance Campaigner Chuck Baclagon says there’s a clear imperative to act by jumpstarting the energy transition to meet decarbonisation targets and usher in low-carbon development in Asia, which hosts more than half of the world’s population. 

“Our message is that clean energy translates to a healthy environment, but also to a new sustainable and prosperous future that benefits both people and the planet.”

– Chuck Baclagon, 350 Asia Finance Campaigner

Communities will keep on rising

A global coalition of civil society groups and communities called Go Clean ICBC has recently emerged. The coalition believes that the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) could be a real catalyst for the global energy transition. To make it happen, ICBC must harness its considerable resources to help phase out fossil fuels while working with communities, securing justice and equity for those impacted by the fossil fuel projects they help finance.

Plenty of stories were unearthed from communities in countries like Indonesia, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe where the Chinese state-owned bank has been financing coal projects. Many of these stories share the common narrative of struggle and resistance because of the far-reaching impacts of coal power projects on people’s lives, health, and livelihood.

Take action: Pledge your support to ensure that ICBC hears our demands loud and clear.

The fossil fuel era will come to an end sooner or later – thanks to people power – and a bank as huge as ICBC pulling back its financial support to coal would be an important signal that it’s here and now.

Right now, China and other governments find themselves at a critical juncture, whether or not they will choose to continue from the status quo of pollution and the climate emergency, or pave the way for a new low carbon economy that works for everyone.

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