December 4, 2013. Source: La Via Campesina
On November 8, 2013, the strongest super typhoon ever recorded in history, with winds as high as 314 kilometers per hour, slammed into the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan devastated several cities in the islands of the Visayas, leaving in its wake, more than 5,000 dead, more than 1,000 still missing and millions impacted with thousands of families left without food, water or shelter.
The Philippines, a country used to an average of 20 typhoons a year, had never seen a category 5 typhoon so destructive that it flattened entire towns. But with climate change, this is the new reality. Warmer seas and warmer air temperatures combine to produce more violent storms. The climate is changing and as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated in its report, “many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.”
The catastrophic and horrific tragedy however failed to move the developed nations into committing to real climate action. Instead, they moved backwards. Japan, one of the leading emitters, declared that instead of their original pledge to cut emissions by 25 percent, they would increase emissions by 3 percent by the year 2020 based on their level of CO2 emissions in 1990. The Durban Platform, the new global agreement that would apply to all countries and would replace the Kyoto Protocol, is supposed to be agreed by 2015 and implemented by 2020 but the past climate negotiations, including this recently concluded one in Poland, have witnessed developed countries moving further away from real commitments and instead moving towards voluntary pledges and still no specific numbers on targets or cuts.