Greenpeace asks gov’t to put climate action, vulnerable sectors at core of COVID-19 recovery plans
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - May 15, 2020 - 3:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — The government must put climate action and the vulnerable sectors at the center of its plans for social and economic recovery from the novel coronavirus pandemic, an environmental group said Friday.

The call of the Greenpeace Philippines comes as the threat of COVID-19 overlaps with Severe Tropical Storm Ambo (international name: Vongfong), which has sent tens of thousands of Filipinos fleeing their homes to guard themselves from strong winds and heavy rains.

Due to the country’s location in the tropical Pacific, the Philippines is hit by an average of 20 tropical storms annually, putting people in disaster-prone areas in a state of constant poverty.

“The ‘new normal’ is supposed to make our communities more liveable after the pandemic, but even when the COVID-19 crisis ends, Filipinos’ livelihoods, health, access to basic needs, and safety will remain threatened by more intense and frequent typhoons, droughts and rising sea levels,” Virginia Benosa-Llorin, Greenpeace campaigner, said.

Instead of going back to old business-as-usual systems, the country’s recovery plans must aim to transform the economy and society to tackle climate crisis and promote positive environmental and health outcomes, the organization stressed.

The virus that emerged from China late last year has so far infected 11,876 in the Philippines and forced the government to place millions under lockdowns, effectively paralyzing the country’s economy.

‘Better normal’

Greenpeace Philippines said the country’s transition to a “better normal” should integrate the solutions to the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis.

It stressed that infrastructure investments must be climate and community responsive and must exclude fossil fuel, nuclear, large hydro and similarly destructive power plants, and that the country must not enable policy measures allowing fossil fuel exploration, extraction and intensive use, including industrial agriculture and fisheries market shares.

The organization said that money for recovery must go to the vulnerable sectors and systems that will lead the country to a carbon-free society.

“This is why the government must put them (vulnerable communities) at the center of recovery plans and ensure that all projects and initiatives being planned right now reshape the economy and society to lead us to a better normal,” Llorin said.

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