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MANILA, Philippines – On the 10th anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), environmental groups called on the government to create policies demanding accountability from fossil fuel companies for the costs of climate change.
The groups attributed the impacts of Yolanda and the strong typhoons that followed it in the last decade to carbon-emitting fossil fuels that continue to dominate as the primary energy source.
“If our government is truly prioritizing climate justice, then it must first place accountability on those responsible for the climate crisis – the oil and gas companies who continue to profit trillions from their dirty business. We are sending a clear demand to the Marcos administration: make polluters pay for their role in the climate crisis,” Greenpeace Philippines said on Wednesday, November 8.
The Power for People Coalition also stressed the importance of moving away from “destructive energy from fossil fuels” to keep global warming below its survival threshold of 1.5°C, pressing the government to come up with long-term plans to address the root causes of stronger and more frequent typhoons in the country.
According to the think tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), fossil fuel use, mainly coal, in the Yolanda-stricken Eastern Visayas rose even after the devastation, while the use of renewable energy in the region decreased from 49.21% to 10.25% in the last decade.
“As we remember lives lost, we must also strive to protect and empower those living today and generations to come. A just and rapid shift to renewable energy will allow communities in the region to benefit from much more affordable and sustainable energy,” CEED executive director Gerry Arances said.
Aside from the transition to renewable and sustainable energy, climate justice advocates also demanded President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s declaration of a climate emergency and the alignment of the budget toward climate action and disaster risk reduction.
On November 8, 2013, Yolanda killed over 6,000 people, displaced millions, and caused P95.48 billion in damage across several provinces. It is considered one of the most powerful storms in history, with recorded maximum sustained winds at 315 kilometers per hour.
The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, and artist group DAKILA also aired their sentiments on the 10th anniversary of Yolanda:
“The current leadership appears to prioritize the interests of fossil fuel developers over the implementation of vital adaptation measures, evident in their commitment to expand greenhouse gas emissions through fossil fuel projects, combined with their feeble efforts in proactively evacuating a mere 300,000 individuals.”
Jon Bonifacio, Kalikasan PNE
“From Typhoon Yolanda to Typhoon Goring, climate change has been relentless in its impacts on Filipinos…. Year in and year out, we see stronger typhoons and droughts hitting the country, made even worse by the backwards policies of administrations past and present.”
Nityalila Saulo, DAKILA
“As we converse with [local government units], we also call on President Bongbong Marcos to declare a national climate emergency, create policies that will hold big polluters accountable, and lead the just transition to sustainable energy.”
– Kaela Gabriel/Rappler.com
Kaela Patricia Gabriel is a Rappler intern. She is currently taking up BA Journalism at the University of Santo Tomas.
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