On 2 December, category 4 typhoon Kammuri made landfall in the Bicol region of the Philippines. Several hours prior, Paula Guevara, a resident in the region, recalls a literal calm before the storm. Then she heard a whistling sound she had only previously heard during typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Her household then lost power. And then came the strong winds and heavy rainfall that lasted through the night.
After a stormy night, her house remained standing, except for the avocado tree in front of her house. This tree had survived previous super-typhoons, but its luck ran out with the fury of Kammuri.
The tree is a literal embodiment of loss and damage that vulnerable communities are facing in the climate emergency. If drastic greenhouse gas emissions cuts do not happen immediately, adaptation and resilience-building measures will not be enough to address climate change impacts in the future.
While Paula’s family was fortunately unscathed, others were not so lucky. As of writing this, 13 people lost their lives, nearly 400 thousand Filipinos were displaced, and more than PHP800 million (US$16 million) of agricultural assets were damaged by Kammuri.
We refuse to accept that we keep paying the price of carbon. Polluters must pay with their ill-gotten wealth, not innocent people with their lives. We demand for climate finance to not just support mitigation and adaptation measures or address loss and damage, but also proactively avoid and minimise the latter. We deserve better.