Filipino Delegate Goes on Hunger Strike, As Wealthy Nations Don’t Meet Global Climate Fund Pledges

Patrick Bond: Global Climate Fund was set to provide $100 billion every year by 2020 for adaptation and mitigation efforts, but it goes grossly unfunded with nations like the Philippines feeling its consequences.

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Story Transcript

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

The devastating typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines over the weekend, killing an estimated 10,000 people and displacing as many as 600,000, has been the backdrop for the first few days of the climate change summit in Warsaw, Poland. The summit lead negotiator for the Philippines, Yeb Saño, attributed the typhoon to global warming, and he made a very emotional plea for climate change action at the summit. Let’s take a listen to what he had to say.

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YEB SAÑO, CLIMATE CHANGE COMMISSIONER, PHILIPPINES: We need an emergency climate pathway. Mr. President, I speak for my delegation, but I speak for the countless people who will no longer be able to speak for themselves after perishing from the storm. I speak also for those who have been orphaned by the storm.

I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in sight, until concrete concrete pledges have been made to ensure mobilization of resources for the Green Climate Fund. We cannot afford a fourth COP with an empty GCF.

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DESVARIEUX: With us to discuss this latest climate disaster and its connection to global warming is Patrick Bond. He is the director of the Centre for Civil Society and a regular contributor to The Real News.

Thanks for joining us, Patrick.

So, Patrick, we just heard from the lead negotiator from the Philippines. He mentioned how the pledges to the Green Climate Fund are not being met. First, can you just explain for our viewers what is the Green Climate Fund?

PATRICK BOND, DIRECTOR, CENTRE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY: Well, this was set up with a $100 billion a year promise, starting 2020, by Hillary Clinton in the 2009 climate summit. She was following up with Barack Obama at the Copenhagen Climate Summit. Obama had pulled aside some leaders from Brazil, South Africa, India, China in a side room. And in order to sweeten a very bad deal, there was a lot of bribing and cajoling, as WikiLeaks showed us in subsequent months. But one of the open promises, still to be met, was to set up this fund. And it was going to have $100 billion a year–the largest fund ever–by 2020. Well, it’s now 2013, and there’s nothing in that fund at the present, just a few tens of millions to seed it. It’s based in Korea. And the question is whether the loss and damage, as it’s been called, the kind of massive destruction the Philippines has just suffered–or for U.S. viewers that you know, $60 billion in about a day and a half when hurricane Sandy hit about a year ago, that measure of damage is so intense that that Green Climate Fund will be emptied even if the promises are kept.

DESVARIEUX: So, essentially, wealthy countries aren’t really holding up their end of the bargain. Is anyone coming to the table in Warsaw, at least, with any serious pledges? And what is the case for mitigation? Can you explain how that could work or should work?

BOND: Yes. This mitigation is what is desperately needed, that is, to cut back the emissions. And the rate that we need to do so in the wealthier countries is around 45 percent by 2020 to keep the temperature increase below 2 degrees Centigrade. And to get to that, each of these national delegations has to be very ambitious, starting with the rich ones that have polluted the most. And those would include the U.S., which has traditionally sabotaged these negotiations. And others in Europe, of course, hosting this conference, they’ve all got their own agendas. Mostly they come trying to maintain as much of their own emissions as they can. They’re basically competitive agents.

This structural problem means they can’t really expect any of these [incompr.] parties to the UNFCCC to actually do their job. We need something overarching beyond the national delegations. Or, since that isn’t coming, we’re going to need national movements of civil society to change the balance of forces and force their negotiators to actually make these cuts.

Right now, however, it’s corporations that are sitting next to the delegates, coming into the negotiations, really, for the first time, invited by the Polish government, and in such a brazen way on this occasion that they’ve even set up a special coal convention of corporates there. That [incompr.] arrogant that they can claim to be working on climate when in fact they’re working to destroy the climate.

DESVARIEUX: Alright. Patrick, let’s move back to that super typhoon that hit the Philippines. There are those on the other side of this that are saying that basically historically the Philippines has had many tropical storms, and in reality there’s been a decline in tropical storms since 2005, although their intensities have increased. Can we really make the connection of increased typhoons and natural disasters to climate change?

BOND: What we can do, the climate scientists assure us, is understand that greater humidity means we’re going to have much more extreme storms. And a year ago, hurricane Sandy showed many who would have been skeptics that they have to start worrying. And, indeed, the ratio of climate denialists to people who understand and believe the science fell dramatically. I suspect that’s going to happen the more that, for example, Florida’s eastern coast sinks and the more that the insurance companies force people not to build on the shoreline. And those climate denialists who really, often, are working hand-in-glove with the big fossil fuel corporations will have fewer and fewer adherents. Yes, more extreme weather events, and more erratic, hard-to-predict. But when they do hit, and when the long-term floods, long-term droughts affect large parts of our world, our food system comes under threat. There won’t be any climate denialists. These are people who are distracting us, and we should move on.

DESVARIEUX: Alright, Patrick Bond. Thank you so very much for joining us. I know that you’re going to be in Warsaw next week, and we look forward to your next Bond report. Thanks for being with us.

BOND: Thanks. Great to be with you again, Jessica.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

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DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.