Typhoon Haiyan “Climate Disaster” Spurs Global Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated parts of the Philippines in November 2013, “wasn’t a natural disaster,” Jamie Henn reports for YES! Magazine. “It was a climate disaster”—driven by the coal, oil, and gas companies that “continue to pour billions of tons of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, disrupting our climate.”

The governor of one of the hardest hit regions in the Philippines estimated that the cost of the storm and recovery could exceed $14 billion. The cost in lives is over 10,000. Thousands of people around the world have donated to the relief efforts and the United States committed $20 million to immediate aid efforts with the promise of more. But, as Henn writes, “we aren’t just paying for the outcome of the disaster; we are paying for the cause of it.”

Every day corporations like Exxon, Chevron, Gazprom, and Shell spend hundreds of millions of dollars exploring new reserves, drilling the arctic, blowing up mountains for coal, and fracking our backyards. The fossil fuel industry has made it clear that it has no intention of changing its business plan, even though scientists and economists have explained that in order to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, roughly 75 percent of fossil fuel reserves must stay underground.

Henn reports on the growing fossil fuel divestment campaign that now includes over 500 universities, cities, and religious institutions across Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. “It’s our duty” to take on the fossil fuel industry, Henn writes. “It’s time to tell our public institutions to divest from disaster.”


Jamie Henn, “In the Wake of Haiyan, We Must Divest from Fossil Fuels,” YES! Magazine, November 12, 2013, http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/divesting-from-disaster.

Student Researcher: Carla Cardenas (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Lee Roth (Sonoma State University)