I’m Krishna Ariola, and I’m a 21-year old climate activist from the Philippines. For decades, my province has been caught in a tug-of-war between coal and renewable energy.
I’m writing to ask you to join me and millions around the world to strike for the climate this September. You can find a local event near you, or organise one yourself.
The story of the struggle against coal in my province Negros Occidental started the same year I was born, in 1997.
4 proposed coal plants, countless mobilizations, and 22 years later: not a single coal-fired power plant has been built on our beautiful island. The women-led grassroots campaigns have gained momentous victories and since then, we have been dubbed the renewable energy capital of the Philippines, and the solar power capital of Southeast Asia.
My people have won many battles to protect our province from coal, but we have yet to win the war. That’s why on September 20, I’ll be on the streets of Negros Occidental, Philippines, with millions worldwide striking for a safe climate and a better future.
Many say that adults have failed us—but mine is a different story. My parents and grandparents stood strong in protecting our province. They made it clear they would not allow energy development to come at the expense of ecosystems, the climate, and our people. My generation owes it to them to continue this fight.
That’s why I joined over 2,000 youth climate strikers to protest in front of the provincial capital last March calling on our Governor to declare Negros Occidental a coal-free province. And he did. Once again in June over 1000 youth and community members greeted a newly elected Governor to ensure they’d uphold that promise and create a Negros Renewable Energy Council to coordinate all programmes in the province. You can win progress like this where you live too—we’ve shown that people power works.
Our leaders are meant to protect us. My province of the Philippines is fortunate enough to have a renewable energy path paved for us—our history had been ripe with reform and revolution. But the same cannot be said for the rest of the world.
So-called leaders from other cities and countries are still allowing construction and expansion of coal power stations, megamines, fracking and pipelines, ignoring what the science is telling us. The climate crisis is an emergency, but they’re not acting like it.
As long as these so-called leaders continue to neglect their duties as public servants, we will continue to mobilise and strike for a safe and sustainable future. And so should you.
We’re tired of being ignored and we will resist for the sake of our future. The Philippines and other climate vulnerable nations have had enough. We won’t wait for governments to take the bold climate action our planet needs.
Everyone is invited. Please help us make the climate strikes in September a turning point not just for the Philippines, but globally. Talk to your leaders, engage with your community, and be brave enough to imagine a better future. That is where we are heading together.
See you in the streets.