- An environmental expedition travels to the Republic of Vanuatu accompanied by model and actor Jon Kortajarena
- The group was surprised by Cyclone Donna, power 4 on a scale of 5
- The sea level in Vanuatu has risen more than twice the world average
- The United Nations has classified Vanuatu as the country most at risk from natural disasters
A Greenpeace expedition to the Republic of Vanuatu, in the South Pacific, in which the model and actor Jon Kortajarena has also participated, has been able to verify the effects that climate change is already causing in this remote region of the planet. An area that, due to its location, is exposed to all kinds of natural disasters that are aggravated by climate change. In fact, during the team's stay, Cyclone Donna, a category 4 on a scale of 5, impacted on the archipelago, despite being outside the usual tropical cyclone season. According to experts, these types of extreme weather events occur with increasing frequency and intensity as a result of climate change.
Behind the paradisiacal postcards of Vanuatu, its reality differs enormously from the white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. In fact, Greenpeace and Jon Kortajarena, as climate ambassador, visited one of the many communities that have had to displace their homes due to rising sea levels. In 2015 and 2016, the United Nations ranked Vanuatu as the country most at risk in the world from natural disasters.
According to studies by the Vanuatu Weather Service and the scientific section of the International Climate Change Initiative of Australia (ICCAI) since 1993, the level in Vanuatu has increased twice the world average: an average of 6 millimeters per year (11 centimeters total). The world average is between 2.8 and 3.6 mm per year. In one of the towns Greenpeace visited, Takara Village, houses have had to move inland to cushion the effects of rising sea levels.
Given the vulnerability of Vanuatu and the severity of the impacts, the risk of a humanitarian crisis is increasing and currently rising sea levels threaten 100,000 people and virulent tropical storms 30,000. This means that half of Vanuatu's population is exposed to disasters every year.
"It is not a question of being alarmists, but scientists announce that we are running out of time: if the appropriate measures are not taken before 2020 it will be increasingly difficult to prevent the planet's temperature from rising above 1.5ºC. Limit above which the worst phenomena caused by climate change are very likely to take place ", declared Pilar Marcos, spokesperson for Greenpeace during the trip.
Compared to Spain's sun tax, in 2011 34% of the energy demanded by Vanuatu came from renewable sources (in Spain it was almost 12%). And the archipelago aims to reach 100% by 2030, which shows that the country is committed to renewables to tackle climate change caused by others. In May 2016, its Minister of Climate Change and Energy.
“After visiting the zero kilometer of climate change, the urgency to stop it with real policies is becoming more and more evident than ever,” Marcos commented. "Governments must continue their work since policies to support dirty energy, such as that of the Rajoy Government, have effects not only in Spain but also in remote corners such as Vanuatu," Marcos concluded.
Greenpeace recalls that States are not the only ones responsible, but that other actors such as large corporations also have the obligation to respect human rights and be jointly responsible for the impacts on the climate of their activities.