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Storm 'climate change wake-up call'

The devastating typhoon in the Philippines must act as a wake-up call to the impact of climate change, aid agencies have warned.

Members of the Disaster Emergencies Committee (DEC) are warning leaders meeting at the UN climate talks in Warsaw that the disaster offers a glimpse of the future if urgent action is not taken.

Aid agencies including Christian Aid, CAFOD, Care International, Oxfam and Tearfund said ministers meeting in the Polish capital must act urgently because climate change is likely to make such extreme weather events more common in the future, putting millions more lives at risk.

Climate models forecast that typhoons could become more powerful and that weather-related events around the world will be more extreme and frequent, they warned.

The aid agencies said the governments meeting must deliver more climate finance, drastically cut global emissions and establish a loss and damage mechanism which would obligate developed countries to help those that are increasingly losing lives and livelihoods to the effects of climate change.

The losses from Typhoon Haiyan are expected to amount to several billion pounds, they said.

The DEC and other agencies are working to deliver life-saving aid to the millions affected by the typhoon - said to be the strongest ever to make landfall - which saw wind speeds of up to 200 miles an hour flattening swathes of the Asian island nation.

Overall, the Philippines is one of the countries most affected by extreme weather.

Last year the country suffered the most fatalities from extreme weather events and was ranked the second most affected from climatic disasters just days before Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the country.

David Harewood, who has campaigned on climate change for several years, is backing the DEC's call.

The Homeland star said: "More and more, extreme weather and its effects are being seen in every country around the world. When these events happen more frequently and with greater force, they form a pattern that points strongly towards climate change.

"There's no more time to waste: the lives of millions of people all over the world are being impacted by the changing climate right now. It is time for us to stand together and demand action for our planet, for people living in the Philippines, and - most of all - for the generations yet to come."

Oxfam's head of advocacy, Max Lawson, said: "This should be a wake-up call for negotiators who have been sleepwalking through a process fraught with delay and indecision. The images we have seen from the Philippines are a reminder that climate change is not about numbers and process, but a growing reality for poor people who desperately need support to protect themselves and build safer futures."

Neil Thorns, head of advocacy for CAFOD, said: "We need to see a response from the delegates in Warsaw to match that of the overwhelming response of the public to this devastating tragedy.

"It is not fair, it is not just and it cannot go on that those living in poor and vulnerable communities, such as in the Philippines, are being affected now whilst governments fail to steer us to a better future based on our shared responsibility to care for our planet now and for future generations."

Tearfund's advocacy director, Paul Cook, said: "There's no doubt that weather patterns are changing quickly and unpredictably. People who are living in poverty are disproportionately affected by floods, droughts and storms, even though they are responsible for fewer carbon emissions than the rest of us. We must take responsibility for this ridiculous disparity."

Mohamed Adow, senior climate adviser at Christian Aid, said: "The people of the Philippines, like millions of others around the world, will remain at the mercy of a changing climate unless we act on the findings of overwhelming scientific evidence and get a global deal on cutting carbon emissions. We must free these climate captives by choosing clean energy over dirty energy. Let this be the wake-up call for politicians to act."

CARE International UK's chief executive, Geoffrey Dennis, said: "People affected by disasters like Typhoon Haiyan have done the least to contribute to the dangerous greenhouse gas emissions which drive climate change - yet they are now living on the front line of climate impacts.

"Governments need to act urgently to curb emissions, help the world's poorest people adapt to climate change and set up an international mechanism to deal with the devastating loss and damage which is already occurring. There is no excuse for further inaction or delay."

Delegates from 195 countries are taking part in the annual UN climate talks, which are taking place November from 11 to 22.


From Belfast Telegraph