Obama and Figueres call for more focus on climate resilience

UN climate chief and US president reinforce need to prepare for climate damage in speeches in Nepal and Philippines

Pic: Barack Obama/Flickr

Pic: Barack Obama/Flickr

US President Barack Obama and UN climate chief Christiana Figueres have made separate calls for more investment in cities and environments that can cope with climate extremes.

Addressing the media during his visit to the Philippines, Obama said the country should draw on the lessons of Typhoon Haiyan, which ripped through the country killing hundreds in November 2013.

He said the US had agreed to work with Filipino authorities to develop better infrastructure and develop communities better able to deal with tropical storms and their aftermath.

“We’ve committed to work together to address the devastating effects of climate change and to make Philippine communities less vulnerable to extreme storms like Yolanda,” said Obama, referring to Haiyan by the name it has been given in the Philippines.

Towns and fishing villages along the country’s east coast are still recovering from last year’s devastating storm, which generated some of the strongest winds every recorded in the country.

The costs of rebuilding damaged properties, restoring water access and resurrecting businesses wiped out by the flooding are estimated to be in the region of $3-5 billion.

Separately Christiana Figueres told a gathering of climate adaptation experts gathered in Kathmandu that Africa alone could face an annual climate damage bill of $7 to $15 billion a year by 2020.

The UN’s climate chief said “more focused funding” is needed to radically cut global greenhouse gas emissions, adding that nearly $1.3 billion was sitting idle in three UN financing bodies, ready to be deployed once countries submitted their requests.

“I would urge all relevant countries to accelerate the development of their various plans in order to maximize the deployment of all these various funds – for example the Adaptation Fund has total funding of just over $220 of which only $78 million has been disbursed.”

Speaking at the 8th Annual Community Based Adaptation Conference (CBA8) in Kathmandu, she also called on developing countries to support the UN’s Green Climate Fund, which is due to open for business later this year.

“Sufficient funding for this Fund can assist in catalyzing the increased investments needed to cut emissions and increase those much needed flows of adaptation finance,” she said.

“Sustained capitalization of the Green Climate Fund can also be the lever to unlock the trillions of dollars held in pension and other privately-held funds – trillions of dollars that is waiting from the right kind of incontrovertible, long term policy signals from governments, not least through an agreement in Paris.”

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