Philippines to lead global forum of vulnerable countries

News, 9 December 2014
As people start to return to their homes in the wake of Typhoon Hagupit, the Philippines is to assume the next presidency of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF).

An image taken by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center shows Tropical Storm Hagupit weakening as it nears Manila, but it has already claimed 21 lives while COP20 proceeds in Lima (Photo: NASA/NOAA via NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory)

The announcement, made in Lima on Monday 8 December, will see the country leading the CVF global South-South cooperation platform, which involves 20 countries that are highly vulnerable to a warmer planet.

Secretary of the Philippines Climate Change Commission, Mary Ann Lucille L. Sering, said: "We are convinced that only by working together more actively can we ramp up the interest, investment and commitment to close the wide gaps that still separate the world from a safe climate.

"We have sustained losses every year since 2008 of five per cent of GDP," she added. "We are experiencing tremendous damages and loss of life from typhoons."

Filipino authorities evacuated homes in advance of Hagupit making landfall, sheltering some 1.7 million people in what the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction referred to as the one of the "largest peace time evacuations in Philippines history". 

Typhoon Hagupit killed at least 21 people and damaged coastal communities, before steadily weakening on its way to Manila, sparing the capital from much damage. 

This is the third year running that extreme weather has battered the Philippines while the Conference of the Parties meet to discuss how better to tackle climate change impacts. 

Camilla Toulmin, director of IIED commented that extreme weather events such as this highlight the need for the UN climate talks to address the issue of helping people deal with the effects of climate change.

"Natural disasters like super typhoons have a devastating human cost," she said. "One of the most tragic aspects of Super Typhoon Haiyan was the loss of so many fathers and older sons, who stayed in the path of the storm to protect their family properties. 

"But they also have a devastating economic impact. The Philippines used to be the largest exporter of rice in the world, but because of the damage caused in recent years by tropical storms, it is now a major net importer."

A briefing entitled A burden to share? Addressing unequal climate impacts in the Least Developed Countries, written by IIED researchers and members of the LDC group and released last year during COP19, made the ever-more pressing point that "climate change is bringing more frequent and more extreme events such as floods, cyclones, storm surges, droughts, tornadoes, landslides, flash floods, heat waves and malaria outbreaks".

The 49 LDCs (who make up 12 per cent of the global population) are suffering climate change 'first and worst', despite contributing less than one per cent of historical greenhouse gas emissions.

From 1980-2013, the LDCs suffered 51 per cent of deaths from climate-related disasters — 4.7 times the global average. But the statistics are worsening. Taking just January 2010 to July 2013, the figure rises to 67 per cent — 5.5 times the global average.

Toulmin added: "As the second and final week of COP20 is under way, this highlights the need for countries currently attending the UN climate talks in Lima to urgently address the issue of helping the world's poorest communities cope with the effects of climate change."

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