Typhoon Ondoy an omen of things to come

Greenpeace reiterates call for climate change fund

Feature story - September 27, 2009
In light of the extreme weather event that devastated Luzon in the past 24 hours, Greenpeace is reiterating its call for industrialized nations to put money on the table for adaptation, mitigation and forest protection in order to help countries like the Philippines that are most vulnerable and least prepared to deal with impacts of catastrophic climate change.

Greenpeace volunteers help an old woman get first aid after she fainted due to lack of sleep and food for almost 24 hours. Greenpeace deployed inflatable boats to assist in flooded areas during the extreme weather event and is reiterating its call for industrialized nations to put up an adaptation and mitigation fund for countries like the Philippines that are most vulnerable and least prepared to deal with the impacts of climate change.

A delivery truck turned upside down, after typhoon Ondoy caused heavy flooding in Barangay Sto. Nino in Marikina. Located in a valley, Marikina City was one of the hardest hit by the said typhoon. Greenpeace is calling on industrialized nations to put up an adaptation and mitigation fund for countries like the Philippines that are most vulnerable and least prepared to deal with the impacts of climate change.

A family was able to retrieve just a bag of belongings from their devastated house in Bgy. Sto. Niño in Marikina, which was submerged in floodwaters reaching three stories high. The people there are in desperate need of water, food and medicines. Greenpeace is calling on industrialized nations to put up an adaptation and mitigation fund for countries like the Philippines that are most vulnerable and least prepared to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Typhoon Ondoy (international code name Ketsana) dumped 334 millimeters of rain in the first six hours, the highest ever recorded rainfall in the Metropolis.  The previous record was 341 millimeters over a 24 hour period 42 years ago. Ondoy submerged up to 80% of the city, and covered areas that never experienced flooding before, stranding people on rooftops and bringing death and misery to rich and poor alike. Even after the waters subsided, Metro Manila and the outlying regions were largely unprepared to handle the evacuees, the injured, and much less the contamination that the floodwaters brought.

Staff and volunteers from Greenpeace, working with the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) deployed its inflatable boats to assist in rescuing residents stranded on rooftops and taking care of the injured. The Greenpeace volunteers saw first-hand how unprepared we are to deal with such extreme weather events. Even after the waters subsided, aid and rescue workers from government, NGOs and the private sector were still overwhelmed.

"It is ironic that this disaster should happen in between two big important climate meetings, the G20 summit in Pittsburgh and the UNFCCC intercessional meeting in Bangkok," said Amalie Obusan, Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner. "While world leaders are pussyfooting on their commitments, countries like ours are left to experience the ravages of climate change."

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Tomorrow, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change intercessional meeting begins in Bangkok.  The UNFCCC meeting in Bangkok is the fourth of five sets of negotiations this year, leading up to the UN Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen this December.  In the next two weeks in Bangkok, governments need to get to work and start real negotiations, so that world leaders at Copenhagen can agree to a fair, ambitious and binding deal for the climate-a deal which protects the most vulnerable countries from climate change impacts.

Climate experts say that unless decisive solutions are immediately put on the table, the worst is yet to come. Greenpeace is demanding industrialized countries, which account for most of the world's carbon emissions - the greatest contributor to climate change - to take responsibility and show leadership towards genuine solutions in Copenhagen this December. Countries like the US are expected to commit to greater reductions in their carbon emissions and to put up a US$140 billion fund for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

During the G20 summit, leaders of the developed world have ducked once again the issue of climate change financing.  "So far, leaders, especially US President Barack Obama, have missed every opportunity to rebuild the damaged trust and recreate the lost momentum that is needed to reach a fair, ambitious and binding deal for climate," adds Obusan. "It is unfair that people in the Philippines should be the ones paying a greater price for the damage that developed countries have wrought on the environment."

The plight of vulnerable developing countries such as ours should put forward a strong moral imperative for early and decisive action.  The threat to our people's survival is a harsh reality that should inform the actions of the industrialized world's leaders.

Act now!

Urge our world leaders to sign a fair, ambitious and binding deal in December.

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