Across East Asia, we have been witnessing deadly flooding and winds unleashed by another super typhoon. Local governments, people and communities are working to rebuild their shattered homes and livelihoods.
The scenes of destruction in the Philippines, Viet Nam and China are a reminder of why we, and leaders everywhere, have an urgent responsibility to act now to reduce climate and disaster risks.
We must do more to invest in resilience to help communities stand up to a future of more extreme weather. That includes investing in infrastructure, social safety nets, micro-insurance, and other programs and projects that bind communities together. Worldwide, we must reduce activities that are fueling climate change.
None of this can be delayed – we are running out of time.
Years of international and decades of measurements show that global greenhouse gas emissions are rising and climate change is worsening, threatening agriculture and water security and contributing to extreme weather. In coastal communities and the fisheries that millions of people rely on for food and livelihoods are at risk as warming oceans grow more acidic and sea levels rise.
In the end, the dangers are unfolding before the residents’ eyes as salt water inundates once farmable and livable land. Their calls for action are among the most urgent in a long list of cultures and communities and countries at risk. The islanders didn’t create the problem, but they are paying the price.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is convening world leaders for a climate summit in New York to mobilise international, national and local actions as we head toward a new international climate agreement in 2015.
He is looking for leaders.
Leadership means driving smart policies that lift people out of poverty today, increase prosperity, and leave a better world for future generations.
It means instituting policies that catalyze green investment and give companies the certainty they need to green their industries and supply chains. That may include putting a price on carbon to set in motion the shift toward cleaner investment, without prejudice on the right to sustainable development.
It means promoting energy efficiency through performance standards on buildings, cars, and appliances.
It means setting targets for renewable energy and investing in a clean energy future.
For investors, leadership means sound choices, such as – now a $20 billion market and growing – that bring a healthy return for putting money into low-carbon projects, such as renewable energy, reforestation, and low-carbon transportation.
Climate leadership is expanding and maturing. We see it here in Asia.
Viet Nam, while being one of the countries most affected by sea level rise, is pursuing a low carbon growth path and working to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as mass transit options in cities. As part of its Green Growth Strategy it aims to reduce the intensity of GHG emissions by 2020 and beyond. And Viet Nam, along with other countries that share the Mekong Delta, is bringing science and decision-making together for innovative solutions to water resources and coastal zone management to protect threatened communities and livelihoods in the Delta. Viet Nam hopes to get more international co-operation and support for effective responses to climate change.
The Philippines is working on a replicable model for increasing the scale and effectiveness of climate and disaster financing, and it has increased climate-smart investments, particularly for flood control, energy efficiency, and reforestation. It has also set a goal of tripling its renewable energy by 2030 and approved a set of renewable energy incentives including feed-in-tariffs and net metering to promote its use.
And China has launched seven local pilot carbon markets in the past two years, creating the second largest carbon market in the world, and has invested heavily in low-carbon cities and renewable energy.
Forward-thinking leaders are showing that with , development that their communities already need can also reduce emissions and build resilience to future extremes.
Developing countries have learnt from the poor, choices now evident in developed countries and are leapfrogging to climate-smart, low-carbon solutions – and benefiting from the competitive advantage.
As we head into the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, we each have a responsibility to our generation and that of our children’s generation to act. We cannot wait – the costs are only rising. We have the knowledge. We understand the urgency. It’s now up to each and every one of us to act.