ALDE Party President Sir Graham Watson has returned from a three-day meeting in the Philippines, describing the devastation wrought by typhoon Haiyan as “a man-made disaster”.
Sir Graham was able to talk to government ministers and to witness at first hand the government’s response to the developing emergency.
“I was in Manila for a meeting discussing the dangers of man-made climate change and what we must do to reduce the danger of increasingly frequent extreme weather events like this one. Thankfully for me, I was far away from the worst-hit areas around Leyte and Samar, but the sense of distress and urgency in the capital was palpable.”
“I fear that we are yet to discover the full extent and horror of this disaster, which is already being likened to the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. Even worse, latest weather reports suggest another typhoon is on its way to the area.”
“I was pleased to see that the EU, as the world’s biggest aid donor, is making efforts to help those whose lives have been wrecked by Typhoon Haiyan. But disaster relief is not enough. Concern about climate change in the EU has slipped down the list of priorities as a result of our economic woes. Yet unless we switch urgently from fossil fuels to clean energy sources such climate-change related extreme weather events will become increasingly common.”
Before returning home Sir Graham travelled briefly to Indonesia to talk to government ministers and party leaders there about the need for urgent action to mitigate climate change. "I hope typhoon Haiyan, hurricane Sandy and all the other storms consistent with climate science will persuade our leaders to take decisive action at the forthcoming UNFCCC climate talks in Warsaw", he concluded.