Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most vulnerable and least prepared regions of the world to face climate change. So it’s very fitting that negotiators from around the world are gathering in Bangkok, Thailand, for the next two weeks as part of the preparation for Copenhagen in December.
The region faces climate change threats from extreme weather, sea level rise, reduced crop yields, water scarcity, diseases and a loss of biodiversity – the diversity of natural life in the region.
The Philippines is a particularly vulnerable country, a point that was underscored over the last couple of days. The country’s capital Manila experienced its worst flood ever over the weekend. The storm has killed over 80 people and displaced nearly 300,000.
Deforestation is a major problem in Southeast Asia, helping to drive climate change and making the region and its people less resilient to the impact of climate change.
Today I met up with a group of elephants on the outskirts of Bangkok that have been on a 250km trek through Thailand organised by Greenpeace, tcktcktck and a number of wildlife, animal welfare and human rights organisations. The elephant caravan has travelled from Khao Yai National Park to Bangkok arriving in time for the climate negotiations.
The elephants were accompanied by Xiao Wei lead singer of a well known Chinese band 'Catcher in the Rye' who has been helping Greenpeace to protect the Paradise Forests of South East Asia.
Unfortunately, New Zealand’s connection to the Paradise Forests of South East Asia isn’t as positive as Xiao Wei. In fact New Zealand’s doing a sort of double whammy. Our ever-rising emissions are directly contributing to climate change and they’ll keep rising under New Zealand’s ETS. Meanwhile Fonterra’s unnecessary importing and use of palm kernel is contributing to tropical rain forest destruction by encouraging the destruction of rainforest for palm plantations.