Yeb Sano - UNFCCC

2013 UNFCCC: United Nations Framework “Change in Climate Conversation”

“We must stop calling events like [Typhoon Haiyan] as natural disasters. It is not natural when people continue to struggle to eradicate poverty and pursue development and gets battered by the onslaught of a monster storm now considered as the strongest storm ever to hit land. It is not natural when science already tells us that global warming will induce more intense storms. It is not natural when the human species has already profoundly changed the climate. Disasters are never natural.” – Philippines lead negotiator Yeb Sano addressing the opening session of the UN climate summit in Warsaw

Representatives from 195 countries are currently meeting in Warsaw, Poland for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC was first formed in 1992 when participating countries joined to discuss methods to cooperatively combat increases in global temperature and further, the looming threat of climate change.  By 1995, the negotiators adopted the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement committing its Parties to meet emission reduction targets. The United States is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol but has not yet ratified the treaty. The first commitment period for the Protocol was from 2008 to 2012 and the second period, which started January 1, 2013, will end in 2020.  

Climate change is a complex challenge. While it is primarily a matter of nature – having consequences for all spheres of life – a multitude of issues impact, or are impacted by, climate disruption, including poverty, economic development, population growth, resource management, family planning, agriculture and industry. As Yeb Sano indicated in the quote above, there is nothing natural about the gross impact humans have on the environment and its disastrous effects.

When the UN climate treaty process launched in the early 90s, the intent was to develop a plan to curb the threat of climate change. However, in today’s world, climate change and its dangerous consequences are a daily reality. We are no longer discussing a future where weather will change and the most vulnerable nations will suffer the brunt of climate disruption – as was obvious from Typhoon Haiyan, occurring in the midst of the UNFCCC negotiations; our world is currently being desecrated by climate change.

In the past, wealthier nations have committed to carrying the financial burden of reducing emissions through the Green Climate Fund. Now, the conversations at the UNFCCC are taking a turn to reflect our changing world. Developing countries want compensation for “loss and damage” due to climate change. As a result, negotiators are discussing whether developed countries should offer financial aid to poorer nations to repair damage from floods, storms and droughts—and if the UN climate treaty process is the best way to deal with said compensation.

As the lead negotiators of the UNFCCC discuss our collective responsibility to the most vulnerable populations and to the Earth, we are reminded of our commitment as Jews to be stewards of the Earth. We cannot accept the destruction of our environment and its effect on human health and livelihood. This week, as conversations continue in Warsaw, let us take a moment to reflect on both future generations that will be affected by our climate impact and current populations that are facing the reality.

Picture Courtesy of RTCC

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Sophie Golomb

About Sophie Golomb

Sophie Golomb is a 2013-2014 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the RAC. She graduated in 2013 from Brandeis University and is originally from Brooklyn, NY where she is a member of Brooklyn Heights Synagogue.

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