Extreme weather displaces more people than war

"Tacloban Typhoon Haiyan 2013-11-14" by Trocaire from Ireland - DSC_0974. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Tacloban Typhoon Haiyan 2013-11-14” by Trocaire from Ireland – DSC_0974. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters drove 22 million people out of their homes in 2013. That is three times the number of people displaced by war and twice as many as were displaced by extreme weather in the 1970s. The study Global Estimates 2014. People Displaced by Disasters, published by the Norgewian Refugee Council (NRC), gathers data for the period 2oo8-2013 and the results are pretty scary.

Some events were extremenly destructive. Typhoon Haiyan, the deadliest ever recorded, forced 1,000.000 people to leave their homes in the Philippines. That is more than in Africa, America, Europe and Oceania combined, the study points out.

Since the 1970’s “the risk of displacement is estimated to have more than doubled”. This trend has been even more exaggerated in developing countries, mostly in Asia. Between 2008 and 2013, 81% of displacements took place in Asia, with countries like China, India, Bangladesh or Vietnam  seriously heaten by extreme weather and natural disasters.

In the last IPCC report, scientists from all over the world warned that extreme weather events are going to be more frequent due to climate change. “People who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally or otherwise marginalized are especially vulnerable to climate change”, the IPCC pointed out.

As former Irish president Mary Robinson wrote:

The human cost of global warming has a name: climate injustice. The remedy, then, is climate justice. Climate justice is not just the recognition that climate change is a matter of human rights and development; it also involves recognising that the victims of global warming are not responsible for it, nor can their actions alone halt it.

Lima climate summit postpones key decisions until 2015

Lima Climate summit a disappointment

logo_Lima_climate_action_H-624x229The vital Lima climate summit was a disappointment.  Governments have to put individual climate pledges on table in the first half of next year, forming the foundations of the global climate agreement due in Paris next December.  However, many of the big issues that have plagued the talks for years were shirked and left for later. (Daily tck). Overall, this COP shows governments are disconnected from their people who are worried about climate risks and want a just transition to boost our economies, deliver jobs and strengthen public health.

On a positive note, negotiators  were in sync with the emerging consensus around the world that we need to phase out fossil fuels, illustrated by this phaseout being listed as one of the options in the draft outline for the Paris agreement. Governments acknowledged that they have a May deadline for turning that current list of options for the Paris agreement into a legal negotiating text. This means real work on the Paris agreement must get underway at the next session in February in Geneva.

The final result of Lima is a 4 page document (almost incomprehensible) approved unanimously 30 hours behind schedule, where all the countries commit themselves to reduce greenhouse emissions but without a fixed goal. The document they agreed is still groundbreaking in its scope, but it left a lot of work to be done ahead of the conference in Paris.

Feelings were mixed after the summit . “We were pleased to see around 100 countries support the goal of phasing out carbon emissions by mid-century. The goal’s inclusion in the draft text is a win for the fossil fuel divestment movement and will add momentum to that growing campaign. But action must begin now, not after decades of delay”, 350.org communications director Jamie Hennsaid told to The Guardian. Even countries like China, which recently acheived a climate agreement with the US, said that “we’re not very satisfied with the outcome, but we think it’s a balanced and nice document”.

Other leaders, like the former Irish president Mary Robinson showed a bigger disappointment: “not enough was done by countries who can afford to wait.  The leaders of countries whose people are suffering now, who are most at risk and have least resources to mobilise for protection compromised the most. Because they can’t afford to wait – they are negotiating for lives,” she stated.

Ireland didn’t play a great role in Lima.

The first day, the country was awarded “Fossil of the Day” after beign one of the four developed countries along with Austria, Belgium and Australia that haven’t contributed to the Green Climate Fund, designed to help developing countries to mitigate the consequences of climate change. Just a few days after Australia and Belgium announced their contributions to the Fund, but not Ireland.

The Minister for Environment, Alex White TD, hardly referred to the Fund during his speech at the Lima summit, just saying that “we are actively exploring all options for scaling up our mobilisation of climate finance, including in relation to the Green Climate Fund”, despite his pledge of Irish action on climate change.  Obviously, he had not been given a mandate to pledge any money.

Now the road is open for the 2015 Paris summit, where a final agreement must be reach if the world want to stops climate change.

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