Greenpeace visits Ground Zero
EASTERN SAMAR, Philippines – Greenpeace made solidarity visit to Dolores in Eastern Samar where Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit) made landfall before weaving a destructive path across the country and displacing an estimated two million people.
Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo visited Dolores on Tuesday, December 9. Together with Philippine climate commissioner Naderev "Yeb" M. Saño and Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Von Hernandez, Naidoo met with local authorities, visited schools, and talked with residents.
They had earlier visited the town of Laiya in Batangas on Monday, sheltering from the storm front in churches and schools with villagers, as it made a direct hit on the coastal community.
In Dolores, Naidoo was told that 7,000 of the population of 40,800 were still in evacuation centers, while one person was killed. Mayor Emiliana Villacarillo said 80% of homes were destroyed and much of the region’s farmland ruined.
“This is ground zero of the destruction caused by Typhoon Hagupit. It’s been an extremely humbling experience to spend time here and witness how the community has risen to address the devastation that they’ve faced. There’s a lot of pain and hardship. One life was lost, homes destroyed, infrastructure ruined. and agricultural land damaged," Naidoo said.
Naidoo added: “I’ve been moved by the spirit of the mayor. She is strong and determined but she needs help. All of us need to mobilize to support her when she says she wants to build a more resilient community and to adapt to climate change."
"The people are resilient, their spirits are strong and the smiles are amazing to see through all this pain, but the truth is they need help. I call upon people all over the world to find ways in which they can support communities like this as we face more and more impacts of climate change.” (READ: Giant Philippine storms show climate change threat – Greenpeace)
Greenpeace is calling on delegates at the UN climate talks in Lima to also stand with the people of the Philippines and deliver an ambitious climate solution and end the fossil fuel age.
Real action can also be taken by citizens around the world, by the CEOs of major energy companies, and by governments to bring about a future based on 100% clean and renewable energy sources, to end tropical rainforest destruction, and shift towards ecological agriculture. Every day lost will add to the burden of devastating climate change.
The links between extreme weather and pollution caused by the major coal, oil, and gas companies are becoming stronger. Research released in 2013 also showed that 90 polluters are responsible for two-thirds of pollution in the industrial age.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Von Hernandez said, “The major oil, coal and gas companies are to blame for the increased likelihood of more intense and destructive storms, and they should pay for the damage and help prevent causing further harm."
Hernandez added: "Like Big Tobacco before them, the Big Polluters are going to have to face the survivors of disasters like those in Dolores who have had their homes destroyed, family and friends killed, and their livelihoods wiped out. Their product is the problem.”