Philippine floods stress the human element in Bangkok climate talks - WWF
Regretting the loss of life in the flooding which has displaced hundreds of thousands, WWF said it was aware that Philippines meteorogists had linked the event to climate change, but cautioned that drawing such links to individual extreme weather events was difficult.
The science is clear however that more frequent and more severe extreme weather events are already and will be an increasing consequence of climate change. This will include more extreme rainfall events similar to the record rainfall brought by tropical storm Ondoy to the Manila area and to flooding from record rains that devastated Istanbul and other areas of Turkey a fortnight ago.
"Ondoy taught Manila a painful and very expensive lesson," wrote WWF-Phillipines Chief Executive Officer Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan. "With climate change, no one is ever exempt. Its impacts are dynamic and non-linear. Coastal zones and flood prone areas along river banks and lake shores will of course get hit. But less vulnerable areas and sectors are affected as well, because the impacts of an extreme weather event spill over into transportation, infrastructure, power, telecommunications, health, food security, water - all leading to internal displacement and marginalization of hundreds, even thousands, of people."
“The Philippine floods should remind politicians and delegates negotiating the climate treaty that they are not just talking about paragraphs, amendments and dollars but about the lives of millions of people and the future of this planet,” said Kim Carstensen, Leader of the WWF Global Climate Initiative.
“After months of haggling, losing time and arguing we have now entered the last phase and have an absolutely last minute chance to rescue the climate deal.”
The UN Climate Summit of heads of state in New York last week has given negotiators a mandate to turn the 170-page draft into an agreeable treaty. This is urgently needed to ensure the survival of vulnerable nations at risk from climate change.
According to WWF in order to prevent failure in Copenhagen and future climate disasters, negotiators in Bangkok should aim at cutting the UN draft texts by 40% by the middle of the conference and by 85% by the end of the two-week talks.
The main tasks are in the hands of rich countries which need to come up with ambitious reduction targets as well as finance commitments which will help developing countries to adapt to climate change
“Delegates are equipped with a clear mandate to edit at record speed and accelerate the drafting process”, said Carstensen. “Maybe big targets and big money will only be agreed in Copenhagen, but that can’t be an excuse for wasting time, at least the crucial groundwork must be laid here. We need clarity on what the key elements are for a Copenhagen climate deal.
WWF is worried about a mismatch between credible leadership in Asia and empty rhetoric in Europe and the United States. While key Asian countries are offering concrete contributions to reach a deal in December, EU and US are emerging as major stumbling blocks.
WWF applauds Japan, China and India for outlining concrete mitigation action and for playing an increasingly constructive role in the negotiations, confirming their determination to become the world’s next economic leaders on the basis of a green economy and low carbon growth.
“Pledges such as Japan’s to reduce emissions 25% from 1990 levels by 2020 and that of Indonesia to keep emission growth 26% to 41% below business as usual projections by 2020 are bringing us closer to the global emission reduction targets we need”, said Carstensen.
Both developed and developing Asia are finding their way to the top in the world league of climate action. Now industrialized countries and in particular the US has to follow Asia’s example, and after missed opportunities in New York and Pittsburgh the talks in Bangkok present the next chance to step up.