Cashing in on the Climate Crisis: climate justice and climate disaster in the Philippines
Presented at the workshop ‘Climate Change: Crisis or Collapse?’ organised by the Climate Space at the World Social Forum 2016 in Montreal
by Joseph Purugganan
Focus on the Global South
The Philippines has become a poster child for vulnerability to climate change. Our islands experience over 20 typhoons a year, making us one of the most if not the most typhoon-exposed country in the world. But nothing could have prepared us for the fury and the devastation brought by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that hit the Central Philippines in November 2013.
Over 6,000 dead, 3.4 million families affected or 16 million individuals, and close to a million displaced from their homes. Almost three years on hundreds of thousands remain in temporary shelters or tent cities, as the recovery and rehabilitation efforts continue to move at a snail’s pace, marred by issues of corruption, irregularities and inefficiencies.
Super typhoon Yolanda was a wake up call to Filipinos and the bigger global community to the reality that the impacts of extreme weather events related to climate change are already being felt now—these are not something that we expect will happen some ten to twenty years into the future; and also to the extreme urgency for a concerted global response to address the climate crisis.
Super typhoon Yolanda also exposed and aggravated pre-existing and long-standing conditions of vulnerability, poverty, marginalization and exclusion and paved the way for new forms of exploitation and injustice.
In the climate change discourse, and from the climate justice perspective we highlight that while the country is a minor greenhouse gas emitter, the injustice lies in the fact that we are one of the most vulnerable to climate change impacts. We are most at risk from problems other more developed countries are primarily responsible for.