Greenpeace global chief Kumi Naidoo on Monday said increasingly violent storms hitting the Philippines showed the world had to act on climate change, as Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit) barrelled across the country.
Naidoo was in the Philippines to “bear witness” to the damage done by Ruby, the strongest storm to hit the country this year.
“Nature does not negotiate. We actually have to wake up and smell the coffee. We need to understand that we are running out of time,” he said, in a warning to UN negotiators meeting in Lima, Peru, to hammer out the broad outlines of a new world pact on global warming.
Naidoo, the international executive director of the environmental group, said Typhoon Ruby was an example of the massive damage poorer countries would experience if climate change worsens.
He added that the storms hitting the Philippines were getting stronger and stronger, showing the urgency for world governments to act quickly.
Naidoo blamed “all coal and gas companies and other polluting companies” for the worsening climate problems, saying it was unfair that they should make huge profits while poor nations suffer the ill-effects.
He warned that the world was facing a “make or break moment,” and called on governments to adopt the “polluter pays principle” as well as a commitment to give full access to renewable energy by 2050.
Rich and poor countries should act together, Naidoo said, as even the richest nations would not be immune from the impact of a warmer planet.
Storms in the Philippines have become symbolic of the potential damage of climate change since Super Typhoon Yolanda (international codename: Haiyan) unleashed the strongest winds ever recorded on land when it struck the country in 2013 just before climate change talks began in Warsaw.
More than 7,350 were left dead or missing, inspiring greater sympathy for the poor among the negotiators and prompting the Philippine envoy to the talks, Yeb Sano, to go on a tea and water fast for the duration of the negotiations.
Sano is expected to join Naidoo in his visit to the areas ravaged by Ruby.
Activists observing the talks in Lima, however, have said the pace of the negotiations was too slow and lacked a sense of urgency, with rich and poor countries disagreeing on what steps to take.