Climate change is with us - here and now

Just days ago, a typhoon described by CNN as 'worse than hell' hit the Philippines.  So far, it is expected that over 10,000 people in just one area may be dead as a result, with a more thorough count yet to be made.

Mere hours ago, the same typhoon made landfall in Vietnam.  Over 600,000 people were evacuated from key areas.

In a world committed to a minimum of 2 degrees warming, this is the new reality.  It is no longer a case of speculation - as New Zealand's negotiators said to stakeholders today, "the effects of climate change are with us, here and now".  

The Warsaw United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 19) began this morning, keenly aware of this fact.  Developing nations are insistent that developed states take action, and recognise the principle of common but differentiated responsibility agreed upon in Rio in 1992.  The principle seems simple; those nations that have most influenced our climate's changing - in most cases, those same ones with more resources, both financial and technological, to help address the problem - carry the same responsibility as others, but must do more in accordance with their greater capacity.  In reality, though, this principle isn't as easy to enforce as it would seem on paper, and it would seem that economic interests are destined to always take precedence.  In reality, no nation will make the sacrifice of taking drastic action until it is clear they won't be alone.  It's a glorious, tragic stalemate.

It comes as no surprise, then, that the COP opened this morning with an impassioned address from the Philippines' negotiator, Yeb Sano.  His urgency was clear; he's even announced he will be undertaking a hunger strike until a climate deal is in sight.  It's too late to expect a world where Typhoon Haiyans aren't the new normal - as our negotiators said in Auckland last week, we've "missed the boat" as far as that's concerned.  

We can, however, take mitigating action to make sure that 'normal' isn't any worse than that.  We can take action to soften the blow, helping nations adapt to this reality.  

But that action has to be now.


Posted on November 12, 2013 and filed under UN Climate Talks 2013.