A year after Yolanda, Greenpeace enjoins Filipinos to make big polluters liable for climate impacts

Press release - November 8, 2014
Tacloban City—As the Philippines marked the first anniversary of super typhoon Yolanda’s historic landfall in Tacloban City, over 500 Filipinos joined a solidarity event demanding climate justice, vowing to hold big polluters accountable for climate change impacts.

Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia said:  "Filipinos need to stand up and take climate action now. Little has changed in the year since Yolanda struck, in fact carbon emissions continue unabated and big polluters continue to increase their profits.  We will not let this carry on and so we will hold fossil fuel companies — the planet’s biggest polluters — accountable and liable for the climate crisis that they have caused in a court of law.”

Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) battered Central and Eastern Visayas and claimed 6,300 lives with close to two thousand still missing, displaced millions of people, destroyed more than one million houses, and caused widespread damage to agriculture and infrastructure at a cost of almost PHP 90 billion (USD 2 billion).

Von Hernandez added, “We cannot accept this to be the new normal; our lives and our environment cannot be bought. We demand justice. We demand that the big polluters stop peddling dirty energy and use their existing profits to build resilience into affected communities and start funding the transition to the new clean energy economy we need.”

Tacloban also marks the end of a 1,000 kilometer, 40-day walk for climate justice organized by Greenpeace with climate advocacy groups and civil society organizations [1]. Fourteen core walkers raised awareness about climate issues and empowered communities to be resilient to disasters and the impacts of climate change.  They also met local government units, distributed climate resiliency toolkits and interacted with frontline communities hit hardest by extreme weather events, including those living in the shadow of coal-fired power plants.

Upon reaching the Balyuan Convention Center, the climate walkers were joined by students, environmentalists and members of civil society. They formed a human banner of the Philippine flag, symbolizing the growing national movement that is demanding climate justice, on behalf of the thousands who died in the disaster and the millions displaced by extreme weather events like Yolanda.

Philippine Climate Change Commissioner Naderev “Yeb” Saño, also a core walker, said:  “The Climate Walk is significant in many ways. Less than a month from now, international delegates will convene in Lima, Peru to devise a new global climate agreement that will limit emissions. Our Climate Walk will carry on until world leaders act on the people’s clamor for climate justice. It is our era’s defining moment in the fight for our survival.” 

Von Hernandez added:  "It is time for Filipinos and victims of climate change to demand redress and justice from these big polluters mainly responsible for bringing us to the brink of this climate crisis. We also call on the global community to join our group of Climate Avengers—people who will help us in our fight for justice in the courts."

Greenpeace and partner groups are urging the Philippines government to phase out all dirty fossil fuel based energy systems and instead develop and mainstream renewable-based energy sources to mitigate further climate change impacts.

The climate advocates are also appealing to developed countries and world leaders to commit to ambitious and binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions to the amount that will keep the global average temperature to less than a 1.5 degree Celsius increase above pre-industrial levels. 

A week before the Yolanda anniversary, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its most updated findings warning of “severe, widespread and irreversible impacts” for people and ecosystems unless fossil fuel emissions are cut drastically soon [2]. 

Notes to the Editor: 

[1]  Organizers of The Climate Walk: A People’s Walk for Climate Justice are Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Bulig Visayas, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Dakila, Global Call to Action Against Poverty - Philippines, Oxfam Philippines, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Sanlakas and other interfaith groups.

[2] Climate Change 2014 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment Synthesis Report

[3] We encourage people to be our Climate Avengers and join us in the Climate Justice Movement by signing up at http://grnpc.org/lgHB9

For more information, please contact:

Von Hernandez
Executive Director, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Mobile: +63 917-5263050

Therese Salvador
Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Mobile: +63917-8228734

Stephanie Tan
Chief of Staff of Comm. Naderev Saño
Philippine Climate Change Commission
Mobile: +63917-8993