QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES
As orange and red rainfall warnings were raised Wednesday in areas still recovering from Typhoon Odette (int’l name: Rai), Greenpeace called on the Philippine government – as well as incoming leaders from the 2022 elections – for a comprehensive blueprint to address the climate emergency at home, including phasing out fossil fuels and demanding stronger climate action from rich nations.
In the wake of Odette’s destruction in Visayas and Mindanao, the environmental group – who had called for a similar declaration the previous year – said it is even more important now for the government to follow through with a coherent climate strategy beyond disaster response that would address long-term vulnerabilities, not just catastrophes.
“Odette once again showed us that survivors will struggle beyond each typhoon’s onslaught and initial response efforts. They already spent their Christmas with little to no food or water, amid rising prices of commodities, threats of relocation and the spread of diseases – all while preparing for another rainy New Year,” said Greenpeace campaigner Virginia Benosa-Llorin. “The lack of action to address the climate crisis has left us scrambling to act on its impacts within weeks. We simply cannot play catch-up anymore.”
The group said that in order for communities in climate vulnerable countries like the Philippines to survive, fossil fuels must be phased out, starting with a halt to all new fossil fuel projects. Rich countries must radically decrease their emissions, put more money on the table for climate finance, as well as provide compensation on loss and damage for communities that would have to recover and rebuild after a disaster.
“Even with a new government soon in place, our country must not hit a reset button. This is the second year in a row that the climate crisis displaced hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, flattened whole communities, and this will not be the last,” Llorin said. “Urgent and genuine climate action should not just be another broken promise during the campaign trail, but an actual policy priority of our incoming leaders.”
The organization reiterated that the declaration of a climate emergency can result in concrete policies that can help mitigate the country’s vulnerability to climate disasters, on top of ensuring long-term aid for typhoon-affected communities. Greenpeace said this will help guide the country in ensuring nature-based and people-centered solutions to climate impacts, which includes forced displacement, health crisis, and food and water crisis.
The Philippines has witnessed an unprecedented number of extreme typhoons in the past decade. Experts noted that Rai rapidly intensified into a supertyphoon over 24 hours just before landfall, in a phenomenon made more likely by increasing global temperatures. An IPCC report released earlier this year affirmed that the climate system is rapidly changing, and the scale of change is unprecedented. It also affirmed that weather extremes will be more intense and more frequent.
“The Filipino people should not be merely part of yearly statistics. Our ‘resilience’ should not be met by feel-good stories, but should be rewarded by our institutions and global leaders with justice for our losses, safety for our loved ones, and a better future for our youth,” Llorin said.
With slow progress on strong and ambitious climate action from rich countries as seen in the COP 26 climate talks last month, Greenpeace believes that there needs to be stronger climate action at home. Particularly, the Philippine government must:
- Hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the climate crisis and call on other countries to do the same. It must also lead the call for a global phase out of fossil fuels toward a just transition to renewable energy.
- Call on rich countries for more ambitious emissions reductions targets, more money for climate finance, and compensation for loss and damage.
- Ensure rapid transition to renewable energy at home by phasing out coal, stopping fossil gas expansion and targeting 50% of RE in the energy mix by 2030.
- Ratchet up the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). At the moment, the country has promised a 75% carbon emissions reduction from 2020 to 2030, but the unconditional target is only at 2.72%.
- Ensure the Climate Emergency Declaration is followed through with a coherent climate plan. The government must institute climate action as the central policy of the state, and must protect people and climate on the basis of climate justice. Climate action must also be at the heart of the country’s COVID recovery plan.
“2021 should be the last year of climate inaction and injustice,” Llorin said. (PR)