'Open your eyes,' Philippines tells climate meet

by Mariette le Roux, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 06 2012 11:26 PM | Updated as of Dec 07 2012 10:33 AM

DOHA - The Philippines urged bickering UN climate negotiators in Doha on Thursday to take heed from the deadly typhoon that struck the archipelago this week and wake up to the realities of global warming.

Philippine climate envoy Naderev Sano made an emotive appeal for urgent action as the annual United Nations gathering hit deadlock on the issue of money for poorer countries' efforts to cut global warming in the next few years.

"I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face," he said to applause from delegates.

"An important backdrop for my delegation is the profound impacts of climate change that we are already confronting. As we sit here, every single hour, even as we vacillate and procrastinate here, the death toll is rising."

Officials say 477 people were killed and a quarter of a million people made homeless by the Philippines' worst typhoon this year -- the kind of extreme weather event scientists believe will become more frequent as global temperatures rise.

Yet negotiators from nearly 200 countries entered the penultimate day of UN climate talks divided on financial assistance to the developing world.

The issue is key to the adoption of a package of plans by Friday for limiting climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.

Developed countries are being asked to show how they intend keeping a promise to raise climate funding for poor countries to $100 billion (76 billion euros) per year by 2020 -- up from a total of $30 billion in 2010-2012.

Developing countries say they need at least another $60 billion between now and 2015 to deal with the fallout from climate change.

But the European Union and the United States have refused to put concrete figures on the table in Doha for new 2013-2020 climate funding.

Individual country pledges did start to trickle in, but the European bloc said Wednesday that tight finances prevented it taking on binding near-term commitments, while Washington insisted it was already "doing what we agreed to do."

"I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses," said Sano.

"Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around... for the future we want."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged negotiators to put aside their differences and find compromises in tackling the mounting global warming "crisis."

The talks in the Qatari capital are also meant to extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol, the world's only binding pact on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Barring renewal, it expires on December 31.

The Kyoto deal binds developed nations to emissions curbs, excluding major developing polluters, such as China and India -- as well as the US which refused to ratify it.

Agreement on finance and a follow-up period for Kyoto should smooth the way to a new, comprehensive climate pact that is due to be drafted by 2015 and come into effect by 2020.

But a group of NGOs including Greenpeace, Oxfam and the WWF warned the Doha talks were "on the brink of disaster", urging negotiators to roll up their sleeves and make a deal "that reflects the planetary emergency facing humanity".

"Yes, the entire world is facing an economic crisis. But small island developing states are facing an existential crisis," said Camillo Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

"Our existential crisis is neither cyclical nor temporary. It cannot be solved by austerity, stimulus or elections. And it is immune to delay, empty promises or excuses."