Philippines — Super Typhoon Goni, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, tore through the Philippines’ most populous island of Luzon yesterday, leaving millions without power, displacing more than 400,000 people and killing at least 16. The storm spared the capital city Manila but battered the province of Bicol and Batangas — destroying homes and businesses, and submerging several villages at its worst point. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic is complicating evacuation and disaster response efforts. The ultimate toll of this tragedy is yet to be seen, but the science is clear.

Climate change has exacerbated the frequency, duration and intensity of storms such as Super Typhoon Goni, which lashed the Philippines just a week after Typhoon Molave left 22 dead in its wake. Like Molave, Goni will continue on its path to Vietnam with heavy rains.

Norly Mercado, Asia Regional Director issued the following statement:

“Super Typhoon Goni brings back memories of the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. In Asia, we are no stranger to intense tropical storms, but now we face a dual threat with COVID-19 and climate change.

We stand in solidarity with the communities in Bicol and Batangas, and those who are working tirelessly to provide relief during this disaster. We call on world leaders and international institutions to build back better and deliver a Just Recovery for communities around the world, who are most impacted by the effects of climate change. These at-risk communities have historically been marginalized and are paying the price for a changing climate they did not contribute to. Governments and financial institutions cannot standby and continue business as usual while the most vulnerable communities perish in storms that are supercharged by climate change, and potentially increase their exposure in a pandemic. They must put people’s health first.

Any economic stimulus directed to polluting fossil fuel companies should be rerouted to renewable energy solutions, especially those that are locally-owned and controlled. Investments must also be put in place to ensure resilience for such future crises. Governments must act — with true solutions and policies, not zero carbon pledges or moratoriums that look good but provide inadequate action. And they must act before the next Super Typhoon makes landfall and claims the lives of more people around the world.”