Typhoon-hit Philippines tells climate talk attendees: ‘Open your eyes’
The Philippines urged bickering UN climate negotiators in Doha on Thursday to take heed of the deadly typhoon that struck the archipelago this week and wake up to the realities of global warming.
Philippine climate envoy Naderev Sano made an emotive appeal for action as the annual United Nations gathering hit deadlock on the issue of money for poorer countries’ efforts to adapt to a warming world in the next few years.
“I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face,” he said to applause from delegates.
“An important backdrop for my delegation is the profound impacts of climate change that we are already confronting. As we sit here, every single hour, even as we vacillate and procrastinate here, the death toll is rising.”
Officials say 477 people were killed and a quarter of a million people made homeless by the Philippines’ worst typhoon this year — the kind of extreme weather event scientists believe will become more frequent as global temperatures rise.
Yet the penultimate day of the Doha talks was marked by deep divisions between negotiators from nearly 200 countries on financial assistance to the developing world.
The issue is key to the adoption of a package of plans by Friday for limiting greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to halt the march of climate change, which United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon called a “crisis” in addressing delegates on Tuesday.
Developed countries, many of which face unpopular austerity measures at home, are being asked to show how they intend to keep a promise to raise climate funding for poor countries to $100 billion (76 billion euros) per year by 2020 — up from a total of $30 billion in 2010-2012.
Developing countries say they need at least another $60 billion between now and 2015 to deal with the fallout from climate change and convert to cleaner energy.
But the European Union and the United States have refused to put concrete figures on the table in Doha for new 2013-2020 climate funding, even as pledges have trickled in from individual EU member states.
“I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses,” said Sano.
“Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around… for the future we want.”
Ministers were expected to meet late into the night to try to reach a compromise on the funding issue.
“Finance has reached a critical point,” Brazil senior negotiator Andre Correa do Lago said late Thursday.
“We lack resources proportionate to the gravity of the situation.”
German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier predicted: “The conference will be on the knife’s edge up to the last moment.”
Conference president Abdullah Bin Hamad al-Attiyah urged negotiators to speed up their efforts.
“Tomorrow (Friday) we should close our business — the whole world is waiting on us.”
The talks in the Qatari capital are also meant to extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s only binding pact on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Barring renewal, it expires on December 31.
The Kyoto deal binds developed nations to emissions curbs, but excludes major developing polluters, such as China and India — as well as the US which refused to ratify it.
Agreement on finance and a follow-up period for Kyoto should smooth the way to a new, comprehensive climate pact that is due to be drafted by 2015 and come into effect by 2020.
But a group of NGOs including Greenpeace, Oxfam and the WWF warned the Doha talks were “on the brink of disaster”, urging negotiators to strike a deal “that reflects the planetary emergency facing humanity”.
“Yes, the entire world is facing an economic crisis. But small island developing states are facing an existential crisis,” said negotiator Camillo Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Our existential crisis is neither cyclical nor temporary. It cannot be solved by austerity, stimulus or elections. And it is immune to delay, empty promises or excuses.”