Monday, April 4, 2011

Talks go on amid calamities

Martin Khor in the Star (Malaysia): As a new round of global climate negotiations under the United Nations start this week in Bangkok (the first session after the Cancun conference last December), the evidence of natural disasters is all around us. Even as the effects of Japan’s triple crisis of earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear disaster continue, newspapers in Bangkok are filled with stories and images of disastrous flooding in Southern Thailand that have inundated towns and villages and affected a million people.

Last October, when China hosted one of the climate sessions, there was also major flooding in Hainan when the meeting took place, giving a sombre reminder of what is at stake. Natural disasters are visiting almost all countries in one form or other.

While some countries are hit by the more dramatic earthquakes and huge forest fires that also invade cities, many more countries have suffered floods caused by extraordinarily high rainfall that wreak just as much damage to millions of people. In the climate talks, most of the focus and energy have been on mitigation or how to prevent climate change through emissions reduction.

Adaptation or how to cope with the effects of climate change, has been a “poor cousin”, a complaint often made by developing countries. For example, much of the funds spent so far on climate action has gone to mitigation with far too little for adaptation activities.

The spate of serious natural disasters over the past two years should change this order of priorities. The effects of climate change and natural disasters are being felt acutely now, causing loss of lives and havoc to housing, urban buildings and infrastructure, agriculture, food supply, water resources, schooling, and the everyday lives of millions….

From NASA, Typhoon Prapiroon formed in the western Pacific on July 31, 2006, off the coast of Luzon, the northernmost of the Philippine Islands. The tropical depression strengthened to storm status in the next day after crossing Luzon, and reached typhoon status by early August 2, as it continued east-northeast across the South China Sea towards the Asian mainland.

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