UN climate negotiators in Bangkok turn deaf ear to Ondoy and Pepeng onslaught

Feature story - October 10, 2009
As the climate talks in Bangkok limped to a close, Greenpeace called on the leaders of the rich world to make the political decisions needed to save the climate.

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.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) intercessional meeting in Bangkok made progress on the negotiating text, but without emission cuts or finance on the table for developing countries, which is being promised by the industrialised world, this process cannot make the progress it needs to get to a strong deal for the climate.

Greenpeace is demanding industrialized nations, which have gotten rich at the expense of the earth's atmosphere, to cut their carbon emissions by at least 40% of 1990 levels by 2020. Carbon dioxide emissions are largely responsible for the phenomenon of climate change. Greenpeace is also telling the industrialized world that it should put up an annual US$140 billion fund for climate change adaptation, mitigation and forest protection in countries that are suffering as a consequence of the industrialized world's long-history of carbon emissions. These commitments should finally be made at the UN Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen this December, the finalé in a series of climate negotiations in a year identified as a turning point for the earth.

Current severe weather events in Luzon are dramatically illustrating how countries like the Philippines are most vulnerable and least prepared to deal with the devastating impacts of climate change.  "While the world's leaders were beating around the bush talking semantics in Bangkok rather than content and commitment, hundreds of people are dying and nearly a million Filipinos are displaced by floods and landslides caused by typhoons Ondoy (Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma)," said Amalie Obusan, climate and energy campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. "Who is going to pay for the rebuilding of lives and property? Where will the money that is needed to help countries like the Philippines adapt and prepare for future severe weather events and other catastrophic impacts of climate change come from?"

The atmosphere in Manila politics is currently charged with finger-pointing as to which agency and what entities should have been responsible preparing for such calamities brought on by climate change. "Arguments on issues such as dependability of dams and road structures, water resource protection, urban planning and disaster response, are being thrown back and forth among local government agencies. But this is only identifying the problems when calamities have already happened.  We need to also address the source and the solutions. The truth is countries like the Philippines cannot handle the impacts of climate change themselves unless historical emitters of carbon dioxide around the world commit to deep emissions reduction and funding for developing nations," added Obusan

In particular, all eyes are on President Obama's administration to make the shift to the deep emissions cuts that the world has been wanting for decades.

"The US is trying to impose its own domestic limitations on the international community - limitations driven largely by the fossil fuel lobby.  It is climate science and the needs of the most vulnerable that should determine the Copenhagen outcome, not the US fossil fuel lobby and the most wealthy," said Martin Kaiser, Greenpeace International climate policy advisor. "It's time for President Obama to be the climate leader that he says he is."

Greenpeace said the EU must also take responsibility. "The EU is all over the place. Its lack of a strong target, its lack of finance on the table, and its inconsistent internal policy on what a Copenhagen outcome might look like has only increased developing country mistrust in the process. The EU has a big week of decision-making coming up and we expect the leaders Brown, Merkel, Sarkozy in particular - to resolve those issues, to step up and to follow Norway," Kaiser added.

"At the end of the day, we can't change the science - so we have to change the politics - and that means strong leadership - now.  Dangerous climate change waits for nobody."


Ask President Obama to make the smart move by attending the Copenhagen Summit in December!

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