Tensions inside the UN climate talks escalated during the second day of negotiations, as civil society – led by youth groups – joined in a voluntary fast in solidarity of Filipino delegate Yeb Sano, and all those effected by Typhoon Haiyan. The group of around 30 campaigners joined Yeb Sano, in the conference cafeteria at lunchtime to tell people that they would take part in a voluntary fast “until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”

Relief efforts continue to attempt to reach the Philippines as death toll estimates in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan remain around 10,000. With winds of 315km/h, gusts up to 380km/h and a storm surge estimated at 2.1m (10 feet) in some areas, Haiyan has already been dubbed the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in world history. The previous record holder to hit the Philippines, Thelma,killed around 5,100 people in 1991. Haiyan’s death toll is already expected to hit 10,000 in the hardest-hit Tacloban alone. 9.5 million people have been affected. Described as “tropical cyclone perfection” and “off the charts”, the links between climate change and super storms like Haiyan are once again being questioned in the wake of the disaster. Although the overall number of hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons hasn’t increased, the proportion of more intense storms has, as their strength is linked to sea temperature. As the oceans warm with climate change, there is extra energy in the system. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for one, says that intensification of Super Typhoon Haiyan was “fueled by “ideal” environmental conditions– namely low wind shear and warm ocean temperatures”. Most deaths in the Philippines are expected to be from the storm surge, which locals have described as being “as high as a coconut tree” and “like a tsunami”.

Rising sea levels coupled with greater storm intensities increase the probability that future storm surges will be worse. Strong storms may be a regular occurrence in the Philippines, but the magnitude and impact of Haiyan is unprecedented. Its total economic impact may reach $14 billion, about $2 billion of which will be insured, according to a report by Bloomberg analyst Jonathan Adams. While no individual weather event can be said to be a direct result of climate change, as the world meets in Warsaw for the latest round of climate negotiations the increases in storm severity across the board, including Australian bushfires, US Superstorm Sandy, and now Super Typhoon Haiyan, cannot be ignored. Climate change impacts all, but it hits poor countries the hardest. Oxfam is calling on governments to urgently cut emissions and for developed countries to provide finance to help poor countries cope with the impacts of climate change. It says that in Warsaw all developed countries must say what money they are going to provide in the short term and agree a roadmap for delivering the $100bn a year promised by 2020.