Lessons From the Climate Frontlines

The Rainbow Warrior’s visit to Tacloban draws attention to people’s stories and their call for Climate Justice

Press release - February 28, 2018
Tacloban, Philippines – Greenpeace’s most iconic ship, the Rainbow Warrior, this morning docked in Tacloban, Eastern Visayas, the region hit hardest by super-typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013, and the last stop on the Philippine leg of its Southeast Asia ship tour. The Rainbow Warrior is in the region to support communities in pressuring governments and corporations to take immediate action on climate change. Community members are drawing attention to the fact that human rights continue to be threatened by the impacts.

Local people say that Haiyan claimed many more lives than the official toll of 6,329, and displaced millions of people across the region. The devastating super-typhoon left those that remained with stories of pain and loss, of rebuilding their lives and regaining their strength. To help with the healing process, they turned to the arts and the local Waray-Waray culture.

Tomorrow, 1st March, the people of Eastern Visayas, along with Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines, will launch the LIVErary–a human library–where storytellers and experts will share their knowledge and experiences on themes of loss and hope, pain and perspectives, as well as justice and injustice in the context of climate change.

“We Waray people do not want others to have to experience devastating storms like Haiyan, so we decided to share our stories of how hope can spring from tragedy. The LIVErary will be collecting and connecting peoples’ stories, as well as surfacing stories yet untold, of the impacts of the climate crisis on our rights as human beings. Remembering and sharing are key elements of justice and healing. They contribute to social memory, build on and strengthen the social and cultural fabric, and raise questions of accountability and responsibility, of what is fair and right, and what is unjust,“ says Joanna Sustento, Haiyan survivor, writer and one of the books in the LIVErary.

Community representatives from other countries, who are also fighting to reclaim rights threatened by climate change are also participating in the LIVErary. They include: Ingrid Skjoldvær, former chair of Nature and Youth, an organization that, along with Greenpeace Nordic, has sued the Norwegian government for allowing new oil drilling in the Arctic [1]; George Nacewa of the Pacific Climate Warriors in Fiji [2]; and Kelsey Juliana, one of the youth plaintiffs that has filed a constitutional climate lawsuit against the U.S. government. [3]

“Responsible countries leave their oil in the ground. Norway claims to be a climate hero, but continues to drill in the Arctic. This violates our constitutional right to a safe environment and is deeply unfair to those already affected by climate change and future generations”, states Ingrid Skjoldvær, former chair of Nature and Youth, and another book in the LIVErary.

A permanent symbol of remembrance will be unveiled in Tacloban during the Rainbow Warrior’s visit. The Memorial Gift, a 2 metre-high installation made from scrap metal salvaged in the aftermath of Haiyan, is in the style of a crinkled paper boat to signify how strength (metal) can come from vulnerability (paper). The sculpture was created by AG Saño, local artist, survivor of super-typhoon Haiyan, and a petitioner in the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines Inquiry into the Responsibility of the Carbon Majors for Human Rights Violations or Threats of Violations Resulting from the Impacts of Climate Change. [4]

The national inquiry was triggered by a petition filed at the Commission in 2015 by representatives of communities across the Philippines. Apart from survivors of super-typhoon Haiyan, petitioners include fisherfolk from Alabat, communities living in the shadow of the Bataan coal power plant, and civil society groups, including Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines. The first of currently five planned public hearings will take place on 27-28 March in Manila, followed by two more hearings in the Philippines as well as one in the US and one in Europe during the second half of the year. [5]

Shell, BHP Billiton, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ENI, ExxonMobil, Glencore, OMV, Repsol, Sasol, Suncor are among the 47 companies being investigated. The Commission will conclude its investigation by the end of this year and issue its recommendations in early 2019.

“After the Rainbow Warrior leaves Philippine shores, the eyes of the world should be on the Inquiry Room at the Commission of Human Rights of the Philippines on 27th and 28th of March, as it has the potential to shift global understanding of corporate responsibility for climate change.

The rights of future generations and of communities made vulnerable by climate change - those least responsible but bearing the brunt of the consequences, including the poor, elderly, Indigenous Peoples, women, LGBTQIA+, [6] children, persons with disabilities, migrants - must be at the centre of concern, rather than the bottom lines of fossil fuel companies.” said Desiree Llanos Dee, Climate Justice Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines. “This is a global journey of justice where we will continue to remind people of their own power and the power of their stories.”

The Rainbow Warrior’s tour in the Philippines, dubbed “Balangaw: The Climate Justice Ship Tour”, is part of its 5-month “Climate Change & People Power” tour of Southeast Asia.

For more information on “Balangaw: The Climate Justice Ship Tour ” visit www.greenpeace.org.ph/balangaw

Notes to editors:

[1] https://www.savethearctic.org/en-GB/peoplevsarcticoil/the-people-vs-arctic-oil-court-case/

[2] http://350pacific.org/category/pacific-climate-warriors/

[3] https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/us/federal-lawsuit/

[4] Relevant documents and additional information on this inquiry in the Philippines is available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/releases/Worlds-largest-carbon-producers-ordered-to-respond-to-allegations-of-human-rights--abuses-from-climate-change/The-Climate-Change-and-Human-Rights-Petition/

[5] Oil majors to face London, New York hearings over Philippines climate impact: http://www.climatechangenews.com/2018/02/06/oil-majors-face-london-new-york-hearings-philippines-climate-impact/

[6] Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and others.

Media Contacts:

JP Agcaoili, Media and Communications Manager, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines
| +63 949 889 1334

Angelica Pago, Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines
| +63 949 889 1332

Katrina Eusebio, Communications and Digital Support Officer, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines | | +63 999 229 6451

For photos and videos:

Grace Duran-Cabus, Photo Desk, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
| +63 949 889 1335