“Greenpeace extends our deepest condolences, respect and solidarity to our fellow Filipinos, thousands of whom are left reeling with grief with the loss of loved ones, and still in shock with the immensity of this environmental disaster,” said Amalie Obusan, Regional Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “While we commend the government for working tirelessly to address this humanitarian crisis, we urge President Aquino to rethink and start implementing the programs identified in the National Climate Change Adaptation plan, which includes mitigation as an adaptation strategy[i]. This is significant given that the Philippines is the 3rd most vulnerable country to face climate change impacts.”
Dubbed the “strongest storm in history to make landfall”, Greenpeace considers Typhoon Yolanda as consistent with the over-all long-term pattern of widely accepted projections of climate change impacts for Southeast Asia. The typhoon made landfall over Guiuan, Eastern Samar on November 8 with maximum sustained winds of 235 kph near the center and gusts of up to 275 kph.[ii] Yolanda gathered strength as it travelled across deep warm waters of the western North Pacific generating enough heat energy to drive up an existing storm’s power intensifying its rainfall.[iii] So intense was Yolanda that it unleashed a storm surge that reached as high as 20 feet, toppling buildings and everything in its path, causing more fatalities.
Greenpeace noted that while the government’s very own Climate Change Commission is working for urgent global action on climate change, the Aquino government, through the Department of Energy, continues to approve a slew of coal-fired power plant proposals. “As a first step, the Aquino government must undertake the effective implementation of the Renewable Energy Act by allowing more de-centralized renewable energy power complemented by a rural and community-based development approach, eliminate barriers to renewable energy investment in the country and eliminate our continued dependence on fossil fuels that contribute to climate change,” said Obusan.
Greenpeace urges COP19 delegates in Warsaw to use Yolanda as a grim reminder to their governments that every investment in fossil fuels is an investment in death and destruction.
Coal burning, which mostly comes from developed countries, was responsible for 2/3 of the record carbon dioxide emissions growth in the world. The impact of new coal plants being built or new oil fields being developed somewhere, has serious consequences elsewhere. They translate into epic humanitarian disasters and tragedies, as the world has seen in the Philippines.
Greenpeace said that urgent action is needed to reverse the trend of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to stabilize the climate, requiring for governments all over the world to deliver a new climate agreement, covering all parties of the UNFCCC by 2015.
“The Philippines must convert this Yolanda tragedy into an opportunity to convince other governments that the time for action is now,” said Obusan. Every single day that the world continues to burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, we are aggravating climate change and putting ourselves in more peril.”
For more information, please contact:
Amalie Obusan, Regional Climate and Energy Campaigner, , +639175216804
Therese Salvador, Media Campaigner, , +639178228734
For photos, please go to:
[iii] Pun, I.-F., I.-I. Lin, and M.-H. Lo (2013), Recent increase in high tropical cyclone heat potential area in the Western North Pacific Ocean, Geophys. Res. Lett., 40 ,4680–4684, doi:10.1002/grl.50548