'Yolanda' devastation to spur climate action
The outpouring of sympathy for the countries hit by super typhoon Haiyan should translate to substantial progress in the United Nations climate change conference opening today in Warsaw, according to Filipino climate activists.
“The Philippines cannot afford low expectations and stagnant discussions toward a 2015 climate deal, set to be implemented only in 2020. The rest of the world cannot do so, either,” said Voltaire Alferez, national coordinator of climate network Aksyon Klima Pilipinas.
“Climate change has stacked more odds against us, setting us up for strong typhoons such as Haiyan and already costing hundreds, if not thousands of lives of Filipinos. We demand concrete action in Warsaw, owed to us by the richer countries which are mostly responsible for global warming,” he added.
Haiyan pounded central Philippines last Friday, after hitting Palau, and has already made landfall in Vietnam. It was touted as the world’s strongest typhoon this year as well as the strongest ever typhoon to have made landfall. The Philippine government has kept the official death toll to 255 (as of 6 am Monday, Manila time) while reports continue to trickle in, although Leyte’s police chief believes that 10,000 died in their province alone.
“We hope that the governments who have expressed their solidarity and sympathy for our losses become allies of the Philippines towards a climate deal for all countries, whether developing or developed,” Alferez said.
Climate finance, loss and damage
Aksyon Klima challenged negotiators for governments around the world to focus on substance rather than process in the upcoming climate talks, especially in the areas of climate finance and loss and damage.
Little progress has been made since developed countries agreed in the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen to jointly mobilize $100 billion every year by 2020 to help developing countries such as the Philippines deal with climate change impacts, the network stated. Global investment in climate change last 2012 has mostly kept to the 2011 figure at almost $360 million, according to a new study of the international Climate Policy Initiative. In addition, only $7.5 million has been raised as of June for the Green Climate Fund, which was established during the 2011 Durban negotiations to be the main conduit for climate finance.
In Warsaw, negotiators will also discuss how to address loss and damage caused by the adverse effects of climate change, as agreed upon in last year’s climate conference in Doha.
Developed countries have publicly opposed setting up an international mechanism to compensate economic and non-economic losses due to the adverse effects of climate change, which developing countries, especially the Philippines and others which are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, have been pushing.
“Loss and damage due to climate change is beyond adaptation and has not been addressed yet in the negotiations. It is therefore of paramount importance that the negotiators in Warsaw agree on the establishment of an international mechanism to address losses attributed to climate change, including those caused by slow-onset events. This mechanism should enable countries to effectively and urgently recover from the impact of extreme weather events, like what happened to the Philippines in the aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan,” Alferez said.
The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that intense tropical cyclone activity is “more likely than not” to rise in the Western North Pacific and North Atlantic.
Mitigation and tech transfer
Aksyon Klima also called on negotiators to set concrete targets for mitigation and technology transfer.
“Those who signified their support for a second commitment period, should clearly signify the level of ambition or the magnitude of emissions cuts that they will have to do,” Alferez said on the Kyoto Protocol, the legal mandate to reduce emissions which was extended to 2013-2020.
While those cuts may not anymore meet the Kyoto target of 5% global emissions cuts from 1990, he added, those cuts can help prevent the further buildup of greenhouse gases. Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded that the global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has reached a record-breaking 400 parts per million.
The Warsaw talks should also foster the development of non-market mechanisms and a clearer framework for various approaches, including markets, Alferez also stated.
On technology transfer, while the Climate Technology Center and Network has became operational back in Doha, Aksyon Klima lamented that the emerging picture of what it can offer is only technical assistance for climate technology transfer, which can cost only up to $250,000./
(This article came from Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, a network of 40 civil society organizations in the Philippines working on climate action in the international, national and local levels)