Greenpeace chief Kumi Naidoo in Manila
MANILA - Greenpeace global chief Kumi Naidoo urged the Philippines to be part of the solution to climate change, following another typhoon which pummeled parts of the country.
Naidoo said that the solution is an energy revolution, the big transition from dirty fossil fuel-based energy to clean, green renewable sources of energy.
The Philippines, he said, is “blessed with solar, wind and wave” that are sources of renewable and limitless energy.
Naidoo pointed out that climate change is largely responsible for making typhoons fiercer and deadlier, such as the historic typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that ravaged the Philippines in 2013 and now, typhoon Ruby (Hagupit), the strongest to hit the country this year.
Destroyed houses and trees with a slogan calling for help are seen along a road in the village of Mantang in Taft, Eastern Samar on Monday. Millions of people were affected, with at least 21 people killed, as the typhoon barreled across central Philippines towards the capital Manila. Photo by Vincent Go, AFP
“The tragedy of all these typhoons, especially in the intensification of the strength of these typhoons, is directly related to the burning of fossil fuels, oil, coal and gas,” Naidoo said.
Naidoo is currently in the country to personally monitor the adverse impacts of typhoon Ruby in affected communities.
Together with Greenpeace members, he also distributed on Monday solar power kits to evacuees in several areas including Laiya, Batangas where Ruby made a landfall. Philippine Climate Change Commissioner Yeb Saño joined them in the field.
Greenpeace members documented their visit to the communities to be shown via video link-up to the on-going climate talks in Lima, Peru, which Naidoo said is “not going as ambitiously as we want, as fast as we want.”
The 20th UN Conference of Parties (COP20) on climate change in Lima is seen as a crucial step in the drafting of a new legally-binding agreement to reduce global carbon emissions to be then adopted in the Paris talks in 2015.
“But If we don’t get the framework agreed in Lima, then we almost don’t have any chance,” Naidoo warned.
According to Greenpeace, the world’s top carbon emitters are developed countries like the United States, Canada and European Union nations. It says the brutal impacts of these emissions are most felt in the developing world such as the small island states in the Pacific, the coastlines of Bangladesh and the islands of the Philippines.
Naidoo, a South African-born Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, was involved in the anti-Apartheid movement from the age of 15. He described the problem of climate change today as “climate apartheid,” and that “developed countries must recognize that they carry the biggest burden of the problem and have to support the poorer countries to be able to mitigate and adapt to climate change.”
But Naidoo still expressed hope for the climate movement. He saw the resiliency and optimism of Filipinos as great indicators that the climate fight will eventually be won. “With solar, wind and wave powers”, he said, “the Philippines could very well be a net exporter of renewable energy to the world."
Filipinos, Naidoo reminded, just need to “get involved and be part of the solution." He then quoted Nelson Madela, saying “big change always seems impossible when you start but seems inevitable when you finish.”