Monday, December 8, 2014

Philippines Typhoon Underscores Urgency of Climate Action

The most recent extreme weather to ravage the Philippines is a powerful reminder that we must engage both climate mitigation and adaptation. Once again the Philippines serve as an ominous backdrop to yet another UN Conference of the Parties meeting. This year's twentieth COP in Lima, Peru is tasked to come up with a working draft for a global climate agreement scheduled to be signed in 2015.

The Philippines are the world's canary in the coal mine. Each year for the last few years the island nation has been devastated by extreme weather. Although the typhoon has been weakening as it approaches Manilla, Hagupit has already killed at least 27 people and destroyed thousands of homes mostly on the island of Samar. There has also been destruction of croplands, power outages, flight cancellations and a virtual shutdown of all business activity in the nation. This is but the latest example of extreme weather to hit the Philippines, just 13 months ago Typhoon Haiyan struck the nation and in 2012 Typhoon Bhopa left a trail of devastation. While Hagupit does not appear to be as destructive as the two major typhoons that preceded it, it still had wind speeds of up to 250 km/h.

The people of the Philippines are still struggling to recover from Haiyan which left at least seven thousand people dead or missing, it also displaced four million people and cost in excess of two billion dollars in damages.

Typhoon Hagupit underscores the urgency of emissions reduction. It is widely understood that climate change will exacerbate extreme weather, raise sea levels, increase the level of storm surges. On the upside, it appears that the Green Climate Fund, which will help with both mitigation and adaptation efforts in the developing world, will reach its goal of 10 billion by the end of 2014.

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