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ASEAN leaders urged to act on climate change

Published on 26 November 2014 Southeast Asia

A coalition of NGOs has warned leaders attending the ASEAN Summit in Myanmar that a year after Typhoon Haiyan struck the region, causing massive destruction and many deaths, things will only get worse unless serious action is taken on climate change.

Citing the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the ASEAN for a Fair, Ambitious and Binding Global Climate Deal (A-FAB) coalition said typhoons and other extreme weather events would become more intense and frequent unless governments took immediate steps to move toward a low-carbon economy.

Volunteers from Tacloban in the Phillipines sent a message to ASEAN featuring a photo in which participants wore the national outfits of each of the 10 Southeast Asian countries to symbolize their vision of an ASEAN united against climate change.

One of the volunteers, Roger Bacolo, 30, experienced the wrath of Typhoon Haiyan first hand when it struck his hometown last year.

“I lost my mother to Typhoon Haiyan. I don’t want to see another disaster like that in my lifetime, or ever again,” said Bacolo.

“Climate change is probably the biggest challenge of our time, and I hope we can all unite and do what is best for everyone.”

With its heavily populated coastlines and reliance on agriculture, Southeast Asia is highly vulnerable to climate-related disasters such as storms, floods and droughts.

“The reality of climate change is staring ASEAN in the face. However, the upcoming economic integration presents an excellent opportunity to jumpstart the region’s shift toward clean energy,” said Zelda Soriano, legal and political advisor to Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The coalition’s policy brief entitled “Weathering Extremes” reveals the worst weather calamities in the last decade cost the region tens of thousands of lives and more than US$4 billion annually.

Oxfam’s East Asia GROW campaign policy and research coordinator, Riza Bernabe, said Haiyan should serve as a warning to all parties to avoid complacency in matters pertaining to climate change.

“We should all do our part in building and strengthening people’s resilience to climate change and other disasters. ASEAN should help its member-states to be more climate-resilient by adopting and implementing regional programs on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation,” Riza said. 

Source: The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | 9 November 09 2014