Hundreds of climate justice advocates in the Philippines have embarked on "A People’s Walk for Climate Justice," a grassroots event at the front lines of climate change that hopes to galvanize urgent action to address the planetary crisis.
The 1,000-kilometer (621-mile), 40-day walk kicked off October 2, less than two weeks after the historic People's Climate March in New York City which saw 400,000 demonstrators hit the streets.
Johanna Fernandez of Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines writes that the walk in the Philippines is
A postscript [to the People's Climate March], if you may, in the letter written by thousands of empowered individuals calling on the world’s leaders to make the 2015 climate treaty in Paris count.
But to the Filipinos behind this relatively smaller initiative, it’s more than just a permissive addition. It is a tribute to communities who are paying the price for an insurmountable problem they did not cause.
On Monday, the climate walkers are marking the 100-kilometer mark of the journey that ends in the city of Tacloban on November 8, the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan. That storm was one of the strongest ever recorded, killing over 6,000 people and devastating Tacloban, which suffered destruction described as "hellish" and "apocalyptic."
The climate march's website describes the action as "a way of reminding the whole world that we have this reality—this madness—to confront."
"Madness" is how Naderev "Yeb" Saño, one of the country's Climate Change Commissioners and one of the walk participants, described the climate crisis last year—just days after Haiyan pounded the Philippines—in an address to the UN Climate Change Conference in Poland.
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"We can take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a future where supertyphoons become a way of life, because we refuse, as a nation, to accept a future where supertyphoons like Haiyan become a way of life," Saño said in his address. "We refuse to accept that running away from storms, evacuating our families, suffering the devastation and misery, counting our dead become a way of life. We simply refuse to."
"We can fix this. We can stop this madness, right now, right here," he continued, urging that the Poland conference "be remembered forever as the place where we truly cared to stop this madness."
Saño had gained recognition for his impassioned climate appeals the year before in the wake of another typhoon—Bopha—asking the UN climate summit in Doha, Qatar, "If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?"
Given the imperative for action, the climate walk aims to not only underscore the gravity of the challenge but also to build on the the strength of the collective chorus of voices demanding climate justice.
"This walk is about fighting back!" stated Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. "We need to unite as a people and demand a climate treaty that will give justice and compensation to countless families, communities and municipalities that are already being severely affected and devastated by climate change impacts. We must reclaim our people’s rights to a safe, secure and sustainable future."
You can track of the walk as it unfolds on Twitter with the hashtags #ClimateWalk and #ClimateWalkNow: