Hollande tours typhoon-hit town


Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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French president Francois Hollande has taken his warning about the need for funds for a landmark climate deal to a central Philippine town that was devastated by a killer typhoon in 2013.

Speaking at a public school in Guiuan, where Typhoon Haiyan made its first landfall before claiming more than 7,300 lives, Mr Hollande promised to “remember your faces” when France hosts the climate conference in December.

Yesterday, he and President Benigno Aquino III launched an international appeal to back efforts to seal the accord in Paris. Mr Hollande warned that there will be no deal if wealthy countries do not commit adequate funds to help poor nations fight global warming.

“I wanted to come here in Guiuan to show to the entire world what a disaster you have suffered,” he told a crowd of more than 1,000. “I wanted to show them your houses destroyed, the port damaged, your church that collapsed.”

French actresses, Oscar winner Marion Cotillard and Melanie Laurent, added star power to Mr Hollande’s visit.

“I hope he can help us. Our town is always hit by typhoons, we are like the doorway for typhoons,” said Arnel Castillo, a 29-year-old fisherman. The father of two said he was struggling to provide for his family after his boat was destroyed in the typhoon onslaught.

The Paris agreement is not expected to stop climate change, but organisers hope to secure for the first time the commitment of most countries to do something about it. Previously only rich countries have committed to limit their emissions of global warming gases, primarily carbon dioxide, from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

The slow-moving UN talks got a boost last year when top climate polluters China and the US jointly announced emissions-limiting pledges for the Paris deal, which would take effect in 2020. The European Union and Norway have also presented climate targets.

The conference faces a major dilemma on how to raise 100 billion dollars in yearly climate aid by 2020 to help poorer economies transition to clean energy.

Mr Hollande chose the Philippines, devastated by one of the most powerful typhoons on record to hit land on November 8 2013, to warn of the dangers of global warming and urge governments to pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Aquino, whose archipelago nation is exposed to typhoons in the Pacific Ocean more than any other, said the impact of climate change on the Philippines has been massive, with storms of larger magnitude hitting the country during and even outside the typhoon season.

Scientists say man-made global warming has contributed to rising seas and a general increase in strength in the most powerful tropical cyclones. But they will not specifically apply these factors to Haiyan, saying it is impossible to attribute single weather events, like the typhoon, to climate change.

The international appeal the two leaders made, named “Call of Manila”, urges the international community “to conclude a universal, equitable and ambitious climate deal … to preserve our planet as a livable place for future generations.”

It says developing countries like the Philippines have contributed the least to climate change, but are the ones that suffer the most from global warming.

Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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