Harald Welzer writes: The municipal utility company in the city of Potsdam is currently wooing new customers with a special “BabyBonus” offer. The slogan reads, “We value little energy robbers! Welcome to the world!” Every newborn receives a credit of 500 kilowatt hours of electricity, allowing him or her to revel from the start in a world where everything, especially energy, will always be available in abundance. These babies may later find they’re in for a surprise.
When the United Nations Climate Change Conference wrapped up in Warsaw the weekend before last, it did, despite what most observers and disappointed NGO representatives believe, yield a result. It just wasn’t officially announced: the termination of the at-least symbolic general agreement that urgent action must be taken to counter global warming. In other words, climate change has been definitively removed from the global policy agenda.
The intense concern over climate change triggered by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports in 2007 and widely popularized by Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth” — a concern that led even Angela Merkel to make an appearance in the Arctic as the “climate chancellor,” decked out in a red all-weather jacket — actually dissipated a while ago, but no one wanted to say so out loud.
The United States’ lack of interest in an international treaty is dressed up by its argument that gas extracted by fracking is more climate-friendly than coal, while in Japan, the Fukushima disaster and resulting phase-out of nuclear power has provided those responsible with an excellent argument for why the country now needs to burn more coal in order to stay economically competitive. Hannelore Kraft, governor of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, feels much the same way about her own state. And Australia, Canada, Poland and Russia have never really grasped why global warming should stop anyone from burning everything the oil rigs, mines and pipelines have to offer in the first place.
To put it another way: The primacy of economics has prevailed. It no longer seems to matter how we’re supposed to get through the rest of this century if the world grows warmer by three, four or five degrees Celsius. National economies require an ever-growing dose of energy if their business models are to continue functioning, and, in the face of this logic, all scientific objections to the contrary are just as powerless as the climate protest movements, which are, in any case, marginal. [Continue reading...]
Scientific American reports: Abrupt climate change is not only imminent, it’s already here. The rapid dwindling of summer Arctic sea ice has outpaced all scientific projections, which will have impacts on everything from atmospheric circulation to global shipping. And plants, animals and other species are already struggling to keep up with rapid climate shifts, increasing the risk of mass extinction that would rival the end of the dinosaurs. So warns a new report from the U.S. National Research Council.
That’s exactly why longtime climate scientist James Hansen and a panoply of scientists and economists are urging in another new paper that current efforts to restrain global warming are woefully inadequate. In particular, global negotiations to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius risk “wrecking the planet,” in the words of lead author Hansen, recently retired head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a researcher at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.
“We started this paper to provide a basis for legal actions against governments for not doing their jobs and protecting the rights of young people and future generations,” Hansen said of the paper, entitled “Assessing ‘Dangerous Climate Change.’” “We can’t burn all these fossil fuels. There is no recognition of this in government policies.”
The paper, published in PLOS ONE, lays out the case for why fossil fuel emissions to date are dangerous enough to permanently alter the planet’s climate—raising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere above 400 parts-per-million, or levels not seen in at least 3 million years. Global emissions of CO2 from burning fossil fuels — which set another new high in 2012, according to the Global Carbon Project — must decline to zero new pollution within the next few decades, according to the analysis. “Affordable, clean energy is probably the biggest requirement that the planet has,” Hansen noted at a gathering of journalists at Columbia University to discuss the new analysis. [Continue reading...]
The New York Times reports: Suncor Energy, Canada’s top petroleum producer, announced on Thursday that it would expand its oil production in 2014 by 10 percent in another sign that the Obama administration’s delay in approving the Keystone XL pipeline extension is not holding back growth in the western Canadian oil sands fields.
“We’re set for a strong year of continued production,” Suncor’s chief executive, Steven W. Williams, said. The company announced a capital spending program of $7.45 billion for 2014, $477 million more than it had forecast earlier this year.
Suncor, which is based in Calgary, produces oil and gas around Canada, and has operations in North Africa and the North Sea. But its oil sands operations are the main driver for the company. In the most recent quarter, its oil sands output rose 16 percent from the year before for a record of 396,000 barrels a day, nearly 20 percent of the country’s total oil sands production.
The company said it expected its oil sands production to increase again next year to 430,000 barrels a day.
Reports of increased production are coming even as Canadian oil executives are privately questioning whether the Obama administration will ever approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which it has been considering for more than two years.
The extension is intended to transport more than 800,000 barrels a day of oil sands output to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico coast, but environmentalists have made stopping the pipeline their top priority since emissions from oil sands production are higher than for most crude oils consumed in the United States.
But over the last several months, oil companies have sought to go around the dispute by announcing plans for three large rail loading terminals with the combined capacity of transporting 350,000 barrels a day.
The companies are poised to quadruple rail-loading capacity over the next few years to as many as 900,000 barrels a day, whether or not the Keystone pipeline is built. [Continue reading...]
It’s long been reported that rail transportation of oil was already making the construction of Keystone XL an issue of questionable relevance in relation to the environmental consequences of oil sands production, which makes me wonder why so much activist energy was focused on the pipeline. Was it simply because “stop the pipeline” is such an easy rallying-cry?
Ironically, the dangers posed by rail delivery of oil are probably far greater than those posed by Keystone XL as an accident in Alabama earlier this month made all too clear:
When a crossroads doesn’t lie in the woods or the fields but in our minds, we seldom know it’s there or that we’ve made the choice to take one path and not the other until it’s long past. Sometimes, the best you can do is look for the tiniest clues as to where we’re really heading. When it comes to climate change, you can pile up the nightmares — Super-Typhoon Haiyan, possibly the strongest such storm ever to hit land (with the usual prominent caveats about how we can never quite know whether an individual event of this sort was global-warming-induced or not); Australia, which only recently elected a climate-change denialist as prime minister and is experiencing its hottest year on record; the rest of the planet, which is living through the seventh warmest year on record; and so on.
And yet, every now and then, set against the overwhelming, you can sense change in the tiniest of things. Here, for instance, may be a little sign when it comes to global warming: on November 1st, the New York Times featured a piece prominently placed on its front page about how climate change might affect global food production (badly). The story was based on a leaked draft of an upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. The piece wasn’t itself particularly striking, but given that paper’s treatment of climate change over the years, its placement was. Just over two weeks later, after the devastation of parts of the Philippines and with a U.N. climate meeting underway in Poland that normally might hardly have been noticed, it front-paged a far more striking report whose title caught the mood of the moment: “Growing Clamor About Inequities of Climate Change.” Recorded was the growing anger and frustration particularly of island nations that had, in greenhouse gas terms, contributed little to climate change and were feeling the brunt of it anyway. Like many other mainstream publications, theTimes hasn’t exactly been stellar in the placement and attention it’s given to what almost certainly is the single most important issue of our era. So consider this a (rising) sea change, an indication that, for the paper of record, global warming has just jumped somewhere nearer the front of the line.
And here’s another little surprise and possible sign of changing times. In case no one noticed, Red State America (RSA), the land of climate deniers, has in recent years been hit hard by record droughts, heat, wildfires, floods, and storms, by what our news likes to call “extreme weather” (with little or no reference to climate change). So how has that everyday reality been absorbed, if at all? The British Guardian recently reported new polling research by a Stanford social psychologist, who has long been taking the American pulse on the subject, indicating that the inhabitants of RSA — we’re talking about Texas and Oklahoma, among other states — now overwhelmingly believe climate change is a reality, and that a significant majority of them want the government to work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Two stories placed strikingly in a major paper and one passing poll. Not exactly a typhoon of evidence, but sometimes you take your straws in the wind where you find them. In the meantime, young activists (and older ones, too) are trying to take the typhoon by the horns and, with a growing campaign to pressure universities and colleges to divest from the giant energy companies, to change the mood and calculations of our moment. Let TomDispatch regular Todd Gitlin tell the rest of the story — and stay tuned because, whatever may be happening now, there will be crossroads ahead, choices to be made on a planet that’s guaranteed to be in increasing turmoil for the rest of our lives. Tom Engelhardt
How to reverse a slow-motion apocalypse
Why the divestment movement against big energy matters
By Todd Gitlin
Apocalyptic climate change is upon us. For shorthand, let’s call it a slow-motion apocalypse to distinguish it from an intergalactic attack out of the blue or a suddenly surging Genesis-style flood.
Slow-motion, however, is not no-motion. In fits and starts, speeding up and slowing down, turning risks into clumps of extreme fact, one catastrophe after another — even if there can be no 100% certitude about the origin of each one — the planetary future careens toward the unlivable. That future is, it seems, arriving ahead of schedule, though erratically enough that most people — in the lucky, prosperous countries at any rate — can still imagine the planet conducting something close to business as usual.
To those who pay attention, of course, the recent bursts of extreme weather are not “remote “or “abstract,” nor matters to be deferred until later in the century while we worry about more immediate problems. The coming dystopian landscape is all too real and it is already right here for many millions. (Think: the Philippines, the Maldives Islands, drowned New Orleans, the New York City subways, Far Rockaway, the Jersey Shore, the parched Southwest, the parched and then flooded Midwest and other food belts, the Western forests that these days are regularly engulfed in “record” flames, and so on.) A child born in the United States this year stands a reasonable chance of living into the next century when everything, from available arable land and food resources to life on our disappearing seacoasts, will have changed, changed utterly.
The Guardian reports: The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.
The companies range from investor-owned firms – household names such as Chevron, Exxon and BP – to state-owned and government-run firms.
The analysis, which was welcomed by the former vice-president Al Gore as a “crucial step forward” found that the vast majority of the firms were in the business of producing oil, gas or coal, found the analysis, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Climatic Change.
“There are thousands of oil, gas and coal producers in the world,” climate researcher and author Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute in Colorado said. “But the decision makers, the CEOs, or the ministers of coal and oil if you narrow it down to just one person, they could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two.”
Half of the estimated emissions were produced just in the past 25 years – well past the date when governments and corporations became aware that rising greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of coal and oil were causing dangerous climate change.
Many of the same companies are also sitting on substantial reserves of fossil fuel which – if they are burned – puts the world at even greater risk of dangerous climate change. [Continue reading...]
There’s a crossroads moment in our recent history that comes back to me whenever I think of our warming planet. (2013 is shaping up to be the seventh warmest year since records began to be kept in 1850. The 10 warmest years have all occured since 1998.) In the six months from July 1979 to January 1980, as Jimmy Carter’s one-term presidency was winding down, he urged two approaches to global energy on Americans. One was dismissed out of hand, the other taken up with alacrity — and our world is incommensurately the worse for it. Here’s a description I wrote back in May that is worth quoting again:
“On July 15, 1979, at a time when gas lines, sometimes blocks long, were a disturbing fixture of American life, President Jimmy Carter spoke directly to the American people on television for 32 minutes, calling for a concerted effort to end the country’s oil dependence on the Middle East. ‘To give us energy security,’ he announced, ‘I am asking for the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our nation’s history to develop America’s own alternative sources of fuel — from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the sun…’
“It’s true that, with the science of climate change then in its infancy, Carter wouldn’t have known about the possibility of an overheating world, and his vision of ‘alternative energy’ wasn’t exactly a fossil-fuel-free one. Even then — shades of today or possibly tomorrow — he was talking about having ‘more oil in our shale alone than several Saudi Arabias.’ Still, it was a remarkably forward-looking speech.
“Had we invested massively in alternative energy R&D back then, who knows where we might be today? Instead, the media dubbed it the ‘malaise speech,’ though the president never actually used that word, speaking instead of an American ‘crisis of confidence.’ While the initial public reaction seemed positive, it didn’t last long. In the end, the president’s energy proposals were essentially laughed out of the room and ignored for decades.
“Carter would, however, make his mark on U.S. energy policy, just not quite in the way he had imagined. Six months later, on January 23, 1980, in his last State of the Union Address, he would proclaim what came to be known as the Carter Doctrine: ‘Let our position be absolutely clear,’ he said. ‘An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.’
“No one would laugh him out of the room for that. Instead, the Pentagon would fatefully begin organizing itself to protect U.S. (and oil) interests in the Persian Gulf on a new scale and America’s oil wars would follow soon enough. Not long after that address, it would start building up a Rapid Deployment Force in the Gulf that would in the end become U.S. Central Command. More than three decades later, ironies abound: thanks in part to those oil wars, whole swaths of the energy-rich Middle East are in crisis, if not chaos, while the big energy companies have put time and money into a staggeringly fossil-fuel version of Carter’s ‘alternative’ North America. They’ve focused on shale oil, and on shale gas as well, and with new production methods, they are reputedly on the brink of turning the United States into a ‘new Saudi Arabia.’”
Could there have been a sadder choice in recent history? If, in 1979, the U.S. had invested in a big way in solar, wind, tidal power, and who knows what else, imagine where we might be today. Imagine a world not facing a future in which storms like Super-Typhoon Haiyan, which recently leveled part of the Philippines, its winds devastating, its storm surge killing staggering numbers, threaten to become the norm for our children and grandchildren.
So oil wars, yes! — which meant transforming the Greater Middle East into a region of chaos, instability, and death. An oil-ravaged planet, yes indeed! — which meant potentially transforming a future version of Earth into a planet of chaos, instability, and death! A green energy revolution, not on your life! — not while the giant energy corporations have so much invested in underground reserves of fossil fuels and such gigantic profits to make, not while so many governments are deeply intertwined with those energy giants or are themselves essentially giant energy companies. No wonder TomDispatch regular Michael Klare suggests that it falls into our hands to ensure that a green energy revolution arrives ahead of a human-created, fossil-fueled apocalypse. Tom Engelhardt
Surviving climate change
Is a green energy revolution on the global agenda?
By Michael T. Klare
A week after the most powerful “super typhoon” ever recorded pummeled the Philippines, killing thousands in a single province, and three weeks after the northern Chinese city of Harbin suffered a devastating “airpocalypse,” suffocating the city with coal-plant pollution, government leaders beware! Although individual events like these cannot be attributed with absolute certainty to increased fossil fuel use and climate change, they are the type of disasters that, scientists tell us, will become a pervasive part of life on a planet being transformed by the massive consumption of carbon-based fuels. If, as is now the case, governments across the planet back an extension of the carbon age and ever increasing reliance on “unconventional” fossil fuels like tar sands and shale gas, we should all expect trouble. In fact, we should expect mass upheavals leading to a green energy revolution.
None of us can predict the future, but when it comes to a mass rebellion against the perpetrators of global destruction, we can see a glimmer of the coming upheaval in events of the present moment. Take a look and you will see that the assorted environmental protests that have long bedeviled politicians are gaining in strength and support. With an awareness of climate change growing and as intensifying floods, fires, droughts, and storms become an inescapable feature of daily life across the planet, more people are joining environmental groups and engaging in increasingly bold protest actions. Sooner or later, government leaders are likely to face multiple eruptions of mass public anger and may, in the end, be forced to make radical adjustments in energy policy or risk being swept aside.
The New York Times reports: Following a devastating typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, a routine international climate change conference here turned into an emotional forum, with developing countries demanding compensation from the worst polluting countries for damage they say they are already suffering.
Calling the climate crisis “madness,” the Philippines representative vowed to fast for the duration of the talks. Malia Talakai, a negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, a group that includes her tiny South Pacific homeland, Nauru, said that without urgent action to stem rising sea levels, “some of our members won’t be around.”
From the time a scientific consensus emerged that human activity was changing the climate, it has been understood that the nations that contributed least to the problem would be hurt the most. Now, even as the possible consequences of climate change have surged — from the typhoons that have raked the Philippines and India this year to the droughts in Africa, to rising sea levels that threaten to submerge entire island nations — no consensus has emerged over how to rectify what many call “climate injustice.”
Growing demands to address the issue have become an emotionally charged flash point at negotiations here at the 19th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which continues this week.
“We are in a piece of land which is smaller than Denmark, with a population of 160 million, trying to cope with this extreme weather, trying to cope with the effect of emissions for which we are not responsible,” Farah Kabir, the director in Bangladesh for the anti-poverty organization ActionAid International, said at a news briefing here. [Continue reading...]
The New York Times reports: The boom in oil from shale formations in recent years has generated a lot of discussion that the United States could eventually return to energy self-sufficiency, but according to a report released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency, production of such oil in the United States and worldwide will provide only a temporary respite from reliance on the Middle East.
The agency’s annual World Energy Outlook, released in London, said the world oil picture was being remade by oil from shale, known as light tight oil, along with new sources like Canadian oil sands, deepwater production off Brazil and the liquids that are produced with new supplies of natural gas.
“But, by the mid-2020s, non-OPEC production starts to fall back and countries from the Middle East provide most of the increase in global supply,” the report said. A high market price for oil will help stimulate drilling for light tight oil, the report said, but the resource is finite, and the low-cost suppliers are in the Middle East.
“There is a huge growth in light tight oil, that it will peak around 2020, and then it will plateau,” said Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency. The agency was founded in response to the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74, by oil-importing nations.
The agency’s assessment of world supplies is consistent with an estimate by the United States Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration, which forecasts higher levels of American oil production from shale to continue until the late teens, and then slow rapidly.
“We expect the Middle East will come back and be a very important producer and exporter of oil, just because there are huge resources of low-cost light oil,” Ms. van der Hoeven said. “Light tight oil is not low-cost oil.” [Continue reading...]
The New York Times reports: Typhoon relief gridlock threatened to paralyze rescue operations in the most devastated part of the Philippines on Wednesday, with aid piling up but few ways to distribute it, plentiful gasoline but no merchants willing to sell it, and an influx of emergency volunteers with no places to house them.
The intensifying frustrations of delivering aid five days after Typhoon Haiyan struck elicited a plea from the top United Nations relief official to the mayor of Tacloban, imploring him to help find a solution to persuade gasoline station owners to open so relief convoys could begin a large-scale expansion into the razed port city of 220,000 and the interior regions. The gasoline stations have fuel in their tanks but the owners fear robberies and violence if they reopen.
“We have to have fuel, so we have to have some kind of refueling center,” the relief official, Valerie Amos, told the mayor, Alfred S. Romualdez, after she flew here for an assessment in which she promised a vast relief effort. Mr. Romualdez told her that the city could not easily cope with the influx of aid workers, as practically no vehicles are available to bring them in from the airport, while food and drinking water are running out. “I’m asking those who come here, ‘Please be self-sufficient, because there’s nothing,’ ” he said.
The mayor’s best advice to residents was to flee to other cities and find shelter with relatives if they could, saying that the local authorities were struggling to provide enough food and water and faced difficulties in maintaining law and order.
The paralysis was epitomized by the first attempt in Tacloban to conduct a mass burial of Haiyan victims whose corpses had spent days putrefying on streets and under piles of debris. The attempt ended in failure as trucks carrying more than 200 corpses were forced to turn back as gunfire greeted them on the city limits. The identities of the shooters were not clear. [Continue reading...]
Naderev Saño writes: It was barely 11 months ago in Doha when my delegation appealed to the world to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face, as we confronted a catastrophic storm that resulted in the costliest disaster in Philippine history. Less than a year after, we could not imagine that a disaster much bigger would come.
With a cruel twist of fate, my country is being tested by this hellstorm called Super Typhoon Haiyan, which has been described by experts as the strongest typhoon that has ever made landfall in the course of recorded human history. It was so strong that if there was a category 6, it would have fallen squarely in that box.
We remain uncertain as to the full extent of the devastation, as information trickles in in an agonizingly slow manner because electricity lines and communication lines have been cut off. The initial assessment shows that Haiyan left a wake of massive devastation that is unprecedented, unthinkable and horrific, affecting two–thirds of the Philippines, with about half a million people now rendered homeless, and with scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of a tsunami, with a vast wasteland of mud and debris and dead bodies.
Despite the massive efforts that my country had exerted in preparing for the onslaught of this monster of a storm, it was just a force too powerful and, even as a nation familiar with storms, Haiyan was nothing we have ever experienced before, or perhaps nothing that any country has ever experienced before. [Continue reading...]
Walden Bello writes: It seems these days that whenever Mother Nature wants to send an urgent message to humankind, it sends it via the Philippines. This year the messenger was Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Yolanda.
For the second year in a row, the world’s strongest typhoon barreled through the Philippines, Yolanda following on the footsteps steps of Pablo, a k a Bopha, in 2012. And for the third year in a row, a destructive storm deviated from the usual path taken by typhoons, striking communities that had not learned to live with these fearsome weather events because they were seldom hit by them in the past. Sendong in December 2011 and Bopha last year sliced Mindanao horizontally, while Yolanda drove through the Visayas, also in a horizontal direction.
That it was climate change creating the super typhoons that were taking weird directions was a message from Nature not just to Filipinos but to the whole world, whose attention was transfixed on the televised digital images of a massive, angry cyclone bearing down, then sweeping across the central Philippines on its way to the Asian mainland. The message that Nature was sending via Yolanda–which packed winds stronger than Superstorm Sandy, which hit New Jersey and New York last October, and Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005–was especially meant for the governments of the world that are assembling in Warsaw for the annual global climate change negotiations (COP 19), beginning on November 11.
Is it a coincidence, ask some people who are not exactly religious, that both Pablo and Yolanda arrived at the time of the global climate negotiations? Pablo smashed into Mindanao during the last stages of the Conference of Parties (COP 18), in Doha last year.
To reinforce Haiyan’s message, Commissioner Naderev Sano, the top negotiator for the Philippines in Warsaw, went on a hunger strike when the talks began.
It is doubtful, however, that the governments assembling in Warsaw will rise to the occasion. For a time earlier this year, it appeared that Hurricane Sandy would bring climate change to the forefront of President Obama’s agenda. It did not. [Continue reading...]
The Associated Press reports: The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan cast a gloom over U.N. climate talks Monday as the envoy from the Philippines broke down in tears and announced he would fast until a “meaningful outcome is in sight.”
Naderev “Yeb” Sano’s emotional appeal was met with a standing ovation at the start of two-week talks in Warsaw where more than 190 countries will try to lay the groundwork for a new pact to fight global warming.
U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres also made reference to the “devastating impact” of the typhoon in her opening speech, and urged delegates to “go that extra mile” in their negotiations.
Scientists say single weather events cannot conclusively be linked to global warming. Also, the link between man-made warming and hurricane activity is unclear, though rising sea levels are expected to make low-lying nations more vulnerable to storm surges.
Nevertheless, extreme weather such as hurricanes often prompt calls for urgency at the U.N. talks.
Last year, Hurricane Sandy’s assault on the U.S. East Coast and Typhoon Bopha’s impact on the Philippines were mentioned as examples of disasters the world could see more of unless it reins in the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are warming the planet.
“We can fix this. We can stop this madness. Right now, right here,” Sano told delegates in Warsaw. [Continue reading...]
Sano appeared on CNN earlier this year:
Jamie Henn writes: The timing is tragically ironic. As Super Typhoon Haiyan — one of the strongest storms ever recorded — smashes into the Philippines, sending millions fleeing for safety, negotiators from around the world are beginning to arrive in Warsaw, Poland for the latest installment of the United Nations Climate Talks, COP 19.
Climate change is loading the dice for extreme weather events like Haiyan. The storms strength and rapid development have been aided by unusually warm ocean waters and warm, moist air (warm air holds more water vapor than cold). Global warming also causes sea level rise, increasing the risk of flooding from storm surges, especially in low-lying areas like much of the Philippines. Carbon dioxide is the steroids that leads to grand-slam storms like Haiyan.
Haiyan should be a five-alarm wake up call for negotiators in Warsaw and the capitals that sent them here. Over the next two-weeks, despite the best attempts of the nations most vulnerable to climate change, negotiators from the largest emitting countries will bask under the fluorescent lights of yet another conference center to bicker, delay, and obfuscate. Meanwhile, millions of people in the Philippines — and other impacted communities around the world — will be sleeping in relief centers and bravely trying to rebuild their homes.
John Vidal writes: I met Naderev Saño last year in Doha, when the world’s governments were meeting for the annual UN climate talks. The chief negotiator of the Filipino delegation was distraught. Typhoon Bopha, a category five “super-typhoon” with 175mph winds (282km/h) had just ripped through the island of Mindanao. It was the 16th major storm of the year, hundreds of thousands of people had lost their homes and more than 1,000 had died. Saño and his team knew well the places where it had hit the hardest.
“Each destructive typhoon season costs us 2% of our GDP, and the reconstruction costs a further 2%, which means we lose nearly 5% of our economy every year to storms. We have received no climate finance to adapt or to prepare ourselves for typhoons and other extreme weather we are now experiencing. We have not seen any money from the rich countries to help us to adapt … We cannot go on like this. It cannot be a way of life that we end up running always from storms,” he said. He later told the assembly: “Climate change negotiations cannot be based on the way we currently measure progress. It is a clear sign of planetary and economic and environmental dysfunction … The whole world, especially developing countries struggling to address poverty and achieve social and human development, confronts these same realities.
“I speak on behalf of 100 million Filipinos, not as a leader of my delegation, but as a Filipino …” At this point he broke down.