As the UK government belatedly announced the deployment of HMS Illustrious to bring emergency relief to the dying typhoon victims of Tacloban, Philippines Climate Chief, Yeb Sano ,addressed the urgency of climate change and the need for global cooperation in order to lessen the frequency of such devastating natural disasters.
While speaking at the UN Climate Talks in Warsaw, Yeb Sano, made it very clear that time is running out not just for the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan but also for World governments to break the current deadlock surrounding any real action on global warming. He said, "We cannot sit and stay helpless staring at this international climate stalemate. It is time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway".
Sano is of course correct in calling for world leaders to "get off their ivory towers", but doing too little too late is what the West does best, and therefore it is no surprise that developing and growing countries across the world have followed suit by forever extending the deadlines by which they will act!
HMS Illustrious will take two weeks to arrive in Tacloban bay, meaning the main spearhead of the UK's emergency relief contribution will be three weeks too late for the dead and dying on the Philippines shoreline. Those who are able have already begun to flee the area, knowing that nothing is left there for them apart from famine and disease. UK Government sources also tell us that Illustrious has the capacity to "produce drinking water". It seems illogical to send a slow moving war vessel out into a disaster to provide "logistical support" when the immediate time of need will have already passed at its arrival.
Whilst Illustrious sails, the world governments assemble in Warsaw to try to break the deadlock in current climate change talks. Despite the inescapable media coverage of the death toll in the Philippines, immediate action still seems not to be the priority for the delegates in attendance.
For fear of backlash from the global warming skeptics of American big business and the "Tea Party", President Obama has refused to change the U.S. policy of non-adherence to the Kyoto Protocol, which was signed but never ratified. Despite this, it seems that 70% of the American public now firmly believes that climate change is real and that government action is needed. China meanwhile, now the world's biggest polluter, continues to ignore its own responsibilities towards reducing carbon emissions and simply points the finger at the West. India and Brazil it would seem will simply take their lead. We are just two years away from the deadline set within the Durban Platform agreed in 2011, when all governments are supposed to submit their carbon emissions reduction plans for implementation by 2020.
That's potentially another eight years before any global action, however inadequate, will even begin to help turn the tides. That's another eight years during which the intensity of typhoons and Tsunamis looks set to increase. Have we already forgotten the death of Pablo Botha in 2012 or the victims of Sendong in 2011. The Philippines and many other island-states are on the frontlines of a climate change battle. Continued deforestation only makes these areas more vulnerable to the elements, and year after year the massive destruction on their shores is a reminder of the local injustice of what is a global situation. They are among those who have least contributed to climate change, yet they continue to be its chosen victims. They cannot wait until 2015 for the world to act.
So how do we wake up the world's decision makers?"How do we change the minds of the self interested leaders of our world governments? How can we stop governments like our own in the UK from slowing down on "Green" initiatives for their own short term political gains? The answer is that we all need to speak up louder and shout out for change. It falls to us to speak on behalf of those victims of climate disaster whose own Armageddon has already passed. Big business and capitalism will always have the loudest voices (and the deepest pockets) when it comes to bending the ears and greasing the palms of political parties and governments in the West. Whilst many businesses are clamouring for Government to take serious action to prevent catastrophic climate change, those voices are being drowned out. But we the people have our votes, and in the UK we have every reason to look very carefully at how our Government prepares itself for the Durban Platforms 2015 deadline.
We have our voices, we have our pens, and we have our email accounts to remind those in power that one month's opportunist comment on reducing green levies on energy bills can soon turn into the next month's personal shame of having ignored the world's victims of climate change.
The HMS Illustrious deployment as a response from the UK to the tragic loss of life in Tacloban was far too little far too late for the people of the Philippines. Our hope is that politicians will act with far more haste in emergency response and the need for real action in 2015.