By Kaity Mazart
One of the most powerful recorded storms in history, Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation is marked by a still rising death toll of 3,621 as of November 15. While technically a natural disaster, the typhoon hit just as the UN met in Warsaw for the Climate Change Summit, an event many are claiming is not unrelated.
As the summit, which began on November 11, comes to a close, more and more speculation about a correlation between the extreme weather that causes typhoons and ongoing climate change raises the question of possible culpability. Naderey “Yeb” Sano, representing the Philippines, addressed the summit, suggesting climate change was the direct cause of the “madness” his country recently experienced.
Referencing the catastrophe and Sano’s allegations, the summit is now discussing former promises that have not been kept as well as new solutions to finally ratify these agreements. The main focus is on a preliminary contract formulated years ago when the UN met in Copenhagen, where it was agreed that $100 billion would go into the Green Climate Fund by 2020; as of June this year the fund had only received a meager $7.5 million. At the core of this agreement is the concept that the largest supply of carbon emissions has been by developed nations, yet climate change has a global impact. Given this factor it is believed the developed nations should pay retributions to the developing countries that their actions are negatively affecting.
This week, when the topic of “loss and damage” compensation came up, the so far limited results of the agreement yielded an alarming level of uproar. The alleged infringement of climate justice along with the current pace of action by the summit resulted in a walk out by many major environmental groups, including 350.org, Oxfam, Greenpeace International, WWF International, Action Aid International, Friends of the Earth Europe, and The International Trade Union Confederation. Jamie Henn of 350.org was quoted saying, “by walking out of COP19, we’re walking into a fight with the real enemies to progress: the coal, oil and gas companies that have a stranglehold over our governments and economy. It’s time to stop sitting in negotiating halls and stand with the Philippines and millions more who are calling for real climate action in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.”