News of recent hurricanes in the Caribbean and the US were hard to ignore. The devastating impacts of these hurricanes hit me deeply and resonated with my memories and experiences.
On this side of the world, in 2013, we endured the most intense storm to ever make landfall in recorded human history when Haiyan (or Yolanda as we called it) struck the Philippines.
It’s not a coincidence that many of the most powerful storms in history have happened recently. We are seeing these storms because of climate change—global warming means higher sea surface temperature, which means more powerful storms.
Climate change is not a natural phenomenon. It’s the predictable result of emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a massive scale. And one of the biggest causes of these emissions is energy production.
This is what is doubly heartbreaking in the Philippines. Our energy system is based on burning coal, oil, and gas. These technologies have been around for hundreds of years but still, almost 20 percent of people living in rural areas don’t have access to electricity. This poverty makes us even more vulnerable to super storms.
We know that coal, oil, and gas are driving climate change, contributing not just to super storms but to drought, crop damage, and ocean acidification, too. And we know that these old systems of energy production don’t actually deliver for millions in the Philippines and almost 3 billion worldwide.
That’s why this October, we’ve joined with other organizations in Asia and across the world to push forward an initiative called Reclaim Power.
Reclaim Power is a catalyst for organizations, which don’t normally think about “climate change” or “energy,” to take action and highlight the urgent need for a transformation of our energy systems.
There is already abundant technology that can provide energy to all without burning the planet. What is needed is a shift in the systems we use to deliver that energy.
We need to direct public (and private) finance and subsidies to encourage 100 percent renewable and clean energy instead of giving handouts to dirty energy companies. We need to ensure community and public control of our energy systems to ensure that people’s access is prioritized over profit. And we need to ensure that local and long-term sustainability is considered. Substituting food crops to grow biofuel or flooding the Amazon forest to make a mega dam is not a real solution to climate change or lack of energy access!
To drive this message home to our governments, we are planning over 500 actions across the world, on every continent. We will create a wave of pressure on our governments before the UN climate summit in Germany in November.
We will host public education events and protest actions in India and in the Philippines, justice caravans in Kenya, memorials in Bolivia, occupations in England, some good old-fashioned tweeting at the World Bank in Washington, and many other actions in many countries across the globe.
All of these show that not only hurricanes can super-charge climate change, but that movements can, too. People are rising across the world to say our energy systems are broken and that we know how to fix them. I hope you will join us. I know our governments are starting to listen.
LIDY NACPIL, firstname.lastname@example.org