Greenpeace: ASEAN must focus on Climate Change, Adaptation and Mitigation

Feature story - January 9, 2007
Greenpeace called upon the ASEAN leaders to put Climate Change on top of its agenda and seek help from developed countries to establish adaptation and mitigation measures to protect the people and economies of the region.

A man takes stock of his remaining belongings after Typhoon Reming triggered a landslide on the slopes of Mayon volcano in Albay, Philippines, 340 kilometers southeast of Manila. Greenpeace lamented the loss of lives and extensive devastation wrought by supertyphoon Reming (International code name Durian) in parts of the Philippines, stressing that the latest extreme weather disturbace to hit the country is a portent of more violent weather events that countries around the world are likely to experience in the future as a consequence of climate change.

Scientists predict that climate change impacts are going to worsen in coming months and years, with floods, typhoons and droughts already ravaging the region. A resurgent El Nino trend combined with ever-higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions could touch off a fresh round of ecological disasters.

"Unlike the G8, ASEAN has never put climate change on top of its agenda in spite of all scientific evidence pointing that it is a region bound to be hit hardest by climate change. Doubly unfortunate is the complete absence of enabling policies among Southeast Asian countries for adaptation and mitigation let alone policies for the massive uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures that should help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Abigail Jabines, Climate & Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

In the Philippines, for instance, almost 300 weather-related events in the past 25 years took more than 21,700 lives and caused losses of more than US$4.3 billion, according to GermanWatch. That's more than 20% of the Philippine government's 2007 budget.

The impact of typhoons to provincial economies is much more explicit: studies indicate that Bicol and Eastern Visayas, where 85% of the destructive typhoons make their landfall and unleash their fury, have the highest number of people living in poverty.

According to Greenpeace, the rest of Southeast Asia is not spared from climate change impacts. Early this year, Thailand suffered its worst flooding in centuries, a year after suffering one of its worst droughts. The Mekong Region, home to ASEAN partners Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, suffered one of the worst droughts in recent history.

"Typhoon Utor (Seniang) was cited by the Philippine government as themain reason for the ASEAN leaders' summit cancellation last month. Whether or not it really was for that reason, it cannot be denied that the ASEAN was being reminded quite forcefully by the very issue it has chosen to ignore. The rescheduled summit is an opportunity for theleaders to immediately find ways to avert climate change and safeguard the welfare of its citizens, " added Ms Jabines. 

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