Flooding in the Philippines Highlights Urgency of Climate Leadership

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Laurelle Keough (international media) on +66 86 530 8394, laurellek@oxfam.org.au

Uamdao Noikorn (regional media) on +66 81 855 3196, unoikorn@oxfam.org.uk

Flooding in the Philippines Highlights Urgency of Climate Leadership

Climate change is already affecting South-East Asia

LONDON - The worst flooding the
Philippines has seen in decades highlights the urgent need for US
leadership to push UN climate change negotiations in Bangkok forward to
help ensure the best chance of securing a global climate treaty in
Copenhagen.

In the Philippines, with many dead and 330,000 displaced by flooding
in Manila, climate-related factors are blamed for an increased burden
on the health budget, which is struggling to keep up with increased
cases of nutritional deficiencies and diseases such as dengue, malaria
and cholera.

Oxfam research shows that the number of people affected by climate
crises is projected to rise by 54 per cent to 375 million over the next
six years, threatening the world's ability to respond.

Oxfam International Senior Climate Policy Adviser Antonio Hill said
the content of the new US Climate Change and Energy Bill due to be
introduced in the Senate this week, and moves from US officials in
Bangkok from today, would provide a stronger picture of whether the US
was willing to step up and provide the momentum desperately needed in
the negotiations.

Mr Hill said recent announcements by British Prime Minister Gordon
Brown and the EU on climate financing, and Japan and China's stronger
language last week on emissions reductions and finance, would put extra
pressure on the US to step up and signal its intentions on its role in
a global deal.

"Despite good intentions and warm words over the past six months,
the US didn't deliver real leadership last week at the UN Climate
Summit and G20.  Either the US lifts its game, or the next two weeks in
Bangkok could go down as just a holding pattern before a fatal nosedive
in Copenhagen," he said.

He said while many key countries, including China, India, Japan, the
African Union, the Least Developed Countries and the Alliance of Small
Island States, had shown they were ready to enter the final, more
detailed phase of negotiations, intransigence on the part of rich
countries like the US, Canada and Australia was proving an obstacle to
progress.

Key sticking points remain the emissions reductions developed
countries are willing to deliver - current commitments are around 15
per cent instead of the science-based 40 per cent reductions on 1990
levels by 2020 - and the amount of financing they will put on the table
for developing countries to both adapt to the impacts of climate change
and develop on a low carbon pathway.

The two-week negotiations, held in South-East Asia, one of the
world's most vulnerable regions to climate change, is the penultimate
negotiation session before Copenhagen in December, when a fair and safe
global climate change treaty must be secured.

Mr Hill said that whilst last week's summits in the US were forums
for world leaders to signal their intentions, the UN negotiating
process continuing in Bangkok was the only place where countries could
forge an agreement to avoid catastrophic climate change.

"It's crunch time," Mr Hill said.  "What is needed for a
breakthrough is a clear commitment from developed countries -
responsible for three-quarters of the carbon in the atmosphere - to
commit to substantial finance, additional to existing aid levels, to
developing countries."

Climate change is already affecting South-East Asia:  extreme
weather events such as heat waves, droughts, floods and tropical
cyclones have increased in frequency and intensity in recent decades,
exacerbating water shortages, hampering agricultural production and
threatening food security, causing forest fires and coastal
degradation, and increasing health risks.

Mr Hill said a study in Thailand found that aquaculture farmers in
Bang Khu Thian were spending an average of US$3,130 per household every
year to protect their farms from coastal erosion and flooding between
1993 and 2007 - a fourth of annual household income.

"Once developing countries have confidence about the scale of
resources rich countries are prepared to negotiate, then they can turn
their attention to how they might achieve emissions reductions in their
own countries, and work can begin on how a global climate fund could
operate.  These detailed negotiations must not be left till the
eleventh hour in Copenhagen," he said.

Mr Hill said it was crucial that this finance be over and above
existing aid commitments otherwise decades of development gains would
be reversed and millions more people would be plunged deeper into
poverty.

He said the Copenhagen framework also needed to help enable
smallholder farmers make agriculture resilient to climate impacts and
achieve emissions reductions from the sector.

Notes to editors

Oxfam
calculates that at least US $150 billion is needed to help people in
developing countries adapt to the escalating impacts of climate change
and reduce their emissions, and proposes a fair and transparent global
fund operated through the UN system.

The Asian Development Bank estimates that for Indonesia,
Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam as a whole, the cost of adaptation
for the agriculture and coastal zones (mainly for the construction of
sea walls and development of drought and heat-resistant crops) will be
about US $5 billion per year by 2020 on average.

Investment in adaptation will pay off, with the annual benefit in
terms of avoided damage from climate change likely to exceed the annual
cost after 2050.

For the next two weeks, Oxfam will have policy experts and
spokespeople in Bangkok from countries including Indonesia, Bangladesh,
Germany, Spain, the US, the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Malawi,
Australia and New Zealand.  We can arrange interviews in a range of
languages.

Events throughout the two weeks organised by civil society groups including Oxfam include:

Thursday 1 October:

Women's Rally, Bangkok, 11am - 1pm (Rachadamnoen Road and around the UNESCAP building)

Celebrities including Miriam Quiambao (Philippines) and Oppie
Andaresta (Indonesia) will join with hundreds of women from across the
region to raise awareness of the disproportionate impact climate change
has on women;

Tuesday 6 October:

Asian People's Climate Court, Bangkok, 9am - 11am

People from countries including Thailand, Bangladesh, Philippines,
Indonesia and Nepal will tell their personal stories of how climate
change is affecting them now, in front of a judge and panel of experts.

Interviews are available.

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Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change. Oxfam works directly with communities and that seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

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