Natural disasters cost APEC nations over $100 billion in the past decade

By @vitthernandez on
President Francois Hollande in Guiuan
French President Francois Hollande inspects a net of fishermen containing newly caught fishes during a visit in Guiuan, Samar that was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in central Philippines February 27, 2015. Hollande is in the Philippines for a two-day visit aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and gathering support in addressing climate change. Reutters/Erik De Castro

French President Francois Hollande is at the center of global attention now as he deals with the security crisis in the European continent exposed by the Friday terror attacks in Paris. In February, he was in another ground zero when he visited Guiuan, which was devastated by super typhoon Haiyan on Nov 8, 2013.

His visit was in preparation for the 2015 Climate Conference in Paris on Nov 30-Dec 11 so he could convince delegates to craft an ambitious deal at the summit. The Philippines, after all, is the perfect poster boy of climate change, with Haiyan as the best proof.

But it is not just super typhoons but also earthquakes, severe storms and landslides that are in the list of hazards that Verisk Maplecroft, a risk analysis firm, notes threaten the Philippines. In its study, eight Philippine cities are among the 10 cities most exposed to hazards. Guiuan was number 1, Tuguegarao number 2, Lucena number 3 and Manila number 4.

Super Typhoon Haiyan Boys play next to strong waves in a coastal village as strong winds from Typhoon Haiyan battered Bayog town in Los Banos, Laguna, south of Manila November 8, 2013.  Reuters/Charlie Saceda

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) members are currently in Manila to tackle mainly economic concerns of the region. However, while it is unclear if the economic leaders will specifically discuss the Paris summit, the APEC agenda includes several initiatives linked with climate change.

These include energy efficiency, reduction of tariffs on 54 “green goods,” including solar panels and wind turbines, and the promotion of carbon model cities, says Alan Bollard, APEC Secretariat executive director. The inclusion of climate change initiatives is a must since over the past 10 years, natural disasters cost APEC members more than $100 billion.

The Verisk study notes that besides being vulnerable to natural disasters, compounding the risks for the APEC countries are weak capacity to manage, respond and recover from natural disasters.

Before the APEC summit, delegates of 43 nations most vulnerable to climate change also met in Manila last week. Their consensus was to urge governments to commit to the target of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius because at 2 degrees target set by the UN, the survival of some island-nations may not be assured.

With the Paris attack, the 2015 Climate Conference becomes more important than ever. “If not, terrorism wins,” points out French Energy Minister Segolene Royale, quotes Le Point magazine. According to Bloomberg, delegations are not scaling back their presence in Paris, with hundreds of environmentalist and business groups slated to attend the COP21.

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