On Yolanda’s 10th anniversary, Caritas PH calls for ‘scaled-up’ action vs climate crisis

November 9, 2023 - 4:13 PM
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, vice chairman of Caritas Philippines, leads prayers to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda in Palo, Leyte on Nov. 8, 2023. (Caritas Philippines)

As climate impacts intensify across the globe, Caritas Philippines has pressed the need for ‘scaled-up’ actions designed to help vulnerable communities adapt to the climate crisis.

In a statement for the 10th anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda, the national Caritas lamented the “slow” global action to save the planet from multiple climate hazards.

“There is no question that solutions to the climate emergency must be urgently scaled up and improved in their implementation,” it said.

The church agency particularly emphasized the need for increased funding and implementation of action to support the most vulnerable nations, including the Philippines, in dealing with the climate crisis.

But Caritas Philippines stressed that a funding facility alone is not enough to deal with the climate emergency.

Scientists have said that human emissions of greenhouse gases — primarily from burning fossil fuels — are the cause of global warming.

“Without directly dealing with the source of the problem…, other actions would only temporarily alleviate adverse effects,” the national Caritas pointed out.

It also emphasized the need to fully implement previous agreements to keep global warming below 1.5 degree celsius.

“This can only be achieved through a just transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy,” it added.

The church’s social action arm then appealed to the Vatican to host a gathering of representatives from dioceses, parishes, faith-based organizations, and other stakeholders “as a consultative mechanism” to strengthen its climate positions.

“This interconnectedness exists within all of creation and gives inherent dignity and value to every being, which must be protected and upheld by all nations and individuals,” it said.

Caritas Philippines officials led by its chairman, Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, on Wednesday joined the commemoration of Yolanda’s 10th anniversary in Leyte province.

Yolanda made its first landfall in Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013, leaving a trail of tremendous loss and damage, including the death of more than 6,300 people.

Bagaforo said the typhoon was a “wake-up call” to the world about the dangers confronting humankind in the era of climate crisis.

He said the fact that the global Catholic Church, through Caritas Philippines, would need to allocate more than 3.2 billion pesos on total response “is a testament to the great destruction and need”.

“No longer was climate change viewed as just another environmental issue. The case of Yolanda was also a lesson about loss and damage,” Bagaforo said.

“It is a warning for all of us, especially our leaders in governance, to avoid implementing the same decisions and strategies that have led to the climate emergency and other manifestations of the current ecological crisis,” he added.