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France offers the Philippines 50 million euros for climate action

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(Read caption) French President Francois Hollande, left, toasts with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III during a state dinner at the Malacanang presidential palace, Manila, Philippines, Thursday, Feb. 26. Hollande is in the country for a two-day visit.

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France has offered the Philippines 50 million euros (about $56 million) to fund projects that support natural disaster prevention and climate action, according to reports.

French president Francois Hollande announced the offer Thursday during his two-day state visit to the Southeast Asian nation, where he and Philippine president Benigno Aquino III are discussing joint efforts against climate change.

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“I have offered to President Aquino 50 million euros through the French Development Agency to work on projects to prevent some further disasters from happening,” Mr. Hollande said in his opening statement at a press briefing at the presidential palace, according to Philippine news site Rappler.

Hollande’s remarks came just before the two leaders launched a joint statement appealing for global action on climate change in the months leading up to a historic United Nations climate summit in Paris later this year.

“As we meet in the Philippines, where people have endured an unprecedented series of extreme weather events in the last few years, we are reminded that while the developing countries have contributed least to climate change, they are the ones that suffer the most from climate change impacts,” according to the Manila Call to Action on Climate Change.  

“[W]e call upon the international community to conclude a universal, equitable and ambitious climate deal… to preserve our planet as a livable place for future generations,” the statement continued. “We call for climate solidarity and justice.”

The concept of climate justice is based on the idea that the impacts of climate change are disproportionately felt by poor people in developing nations – places that have emitted comparatively less greenhouse gases.

As a result, the countries that have contributed the most to climate change bear a greater burden of responsibility to take action, according to the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service, which connects the agency to civil society organizations.

The Philippines, which was the site of typhoon Haiyan in 2013, is one such “frontline state in the battle against climate change,” Channel News Asia reported.

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The Asian archipelago was responsible for about 0.26 percent of the world’s carbon emissions in 2012, data from the Energy Information Administration shows. When the storm struck one of the Philippines’ poorest provinces, it killed more than 6,000 and forced nearly 4 million people from their homes.

Experts have said that Haiyan and other extreme weather events of the last few years are caused at least in part by climate change.

“Typhoons, hurricanes and all tropical storms draw their vast energy from the warmth of the sea,” Will Steffen, director of the Australian National University climate change institute, told The Guardian. “We know sea-surface temperatures are warming pretty much around the planet, so that's a pretty direct influence of climate change on the nature of the storm.”

Climate justice is just one of a number of issues that the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris will seek to address; the Paris pact’s ultimate goal is to mobilize nations to reduce global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

In keeping with that objective, Hollande and Aquino’s call to action echoed UN secretary-general Ban-Ki Moon’s statement earlier this week in New York, where he reminded member states of the importance of international cooperation in the months leading up to the Paris accord.

“Recent months have seen strong progress on climate change. … Governments, along with leaders of finance, business and civil society, came together to announce significant new actions that can reduce emissions and strengthen resilience,” the UN News Service reported Mr. Ban saying. “Our challenge now is clear: to finalize a meaningful, universal agreement on climate change.”


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