Climate Change: The implications for Oxfam's programme, policies and advocacy

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Report on the impacts of climate change and the implications for Oxfam's programme, policies and advocacy.
    CLIMATE CHANGE The Implications for Oxfam's Programme, Policies and Advocacy Oxfam GB Policy Department October 2000    CLIMATE CHANGE The Implications for Oxfam's Programme, Policies and Advocacy   Contents Executive Summary i  Section One: Rationale 1   1.1 Why is Oxfam examining the impacts of climate change? 1 1.2 Current OI position 2 Section Two: Scientific Consensus on Climate Change 2   2.1 Summary of scientific basis for predictions 3 2.2 Has global warming already begun? 3 2.3 Degrees of uncertainty 4 2.4 Disruptive weather patterns 5 Section Three: Potential Climate Change Impacts 6   3.1 Potential climate change impacts 6 3.2 How these changes may impact on the poor 6 Section Four: Oxfam GB's Current Programme 9 4.1 Disruptive weather patterns and emergency responses 9 4.2 Programme work responsive to climate change 11 Section Five: Proposals for Current International Action 11   5.1 UN Framework 11 5.2 Kyoto Protocol 12 5.3 Flexibility mechanisms 13 Section Six: Outline of Recommended Strategy 15 Annexes 1. Initial outline for Climate Change Programme 2. Equity Manifesto    CLIMATE CHANGE The Implications for Oxfam's Programme, Policies and Advocacy   Executive Summary Summary of findings and propositions Climate change  No one disputes that the earth's climate is changing and that the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased as a result of human activities. The concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are higher now than at any time during the last 420,000 years. The weight of scientific evidence suggests that the observed changes in the earth's climate are, at least in part, due to human activities. In most cases climate change is likely to exacerbate problems that developing countries are already facing. Between 1990 and 1998, 94 per cent of the world’s 568 major natural disasters and more than 97 per cent of all natural disaster-related deaths were in developing countries. The latest models of UN's Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPPC - a high level, independent, scientific advisory body) suggest that if no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gases air surface temperatures could rise by 6 degrees centigrade  by the end of the year 2100. This is considerably higher than the IPCC's previous forecast, which estimated a rise by 2080 of  between 1 and 3.5 degrees centigrade above 1990 levels. Without action now to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the earth's climate will warm at a rate unprecedented in the last 10,000 years. The scenario predicted for 2080 is that: ! Sea levels would increase by 50cm  - almost twice as many people as now would be exposed to severe flooding from storm surges - 18 million people. The majority of people who would  be affected live along the coasts of South and South East Asia. ! Water availability would decline : over 3 billion people in the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent would be facing acute shortages of water. ! Seasonal rainfall patterns would be severely disrupted  bringing drought and floods, dramatically decreasing crop yields and areas like sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and tropical areas of Latin America would face acute food insecurity. ! The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events   could increase  leading to loss of life, injury, mass population dislocations and economic devastation of poor countries. ! Human health would suffer from a combination of effects . People's resistance to disease would be weakened by heat stress, water shortages and malnutrition. Increases in air  pollution would lead to a rise in respiratory illnesses. In these conditions infectious diseases like malaria, dengue fever, schistosomiasis would proliferate. i     No one will be immune, but climate change will have a disproportionate effect on the lives of  poor people in developing countries. Poverty increases people's vulnerability. ! Poor people live in overcrowded, temporary settlements, which are erected on unsuitable land - most prone to the risk of flooding, storm surges and landslides; ! Most eke out a precarious economic existence - subsistence farming or fishing - and have no savings or assets to insure them against external shocks; ! They lack sanitation and their limited access to clean water, poor diet and inadequate health-care provision undermine their resistance to infectious diseases; ! Their lack of social status and the informal nature or remoteness of their settlements means that they do not receive adequate warnings of impending disasters; ! Relief efforts are least likely to reach them; ! Lack of education and official neglect means they have little alternative after disasters but to remain in or return to the disaster-prone areas, with diminished assets, and await the next, calamitous event. Conclusions ! Oxfam GB's programmes are already responding well at the local level. But globally our response to the challenge of global climate change is ad hoc . ! It is unavoidable that OGB will become more involved in dealing with the impact of climate change on the lives of people living in poverty. ! It will be far more cost-effective and useful to our mandate if OGB begins to take a more strategic approach to this issue. ! Oxfam has the potential to make a substantial and distinctive contribution to the debate as there are currently few major NGOs with both humanitarian and development experience and advocacy capacity in this field. ! OI has already responded positively to OGB's lead at COP-6. A joint OI position was adopted with everyone endorsing The Equity Manifesto (attached). Novib has a strong  programme in this area and others like Oxfam HK, CAA and OA are considering how to develop this work. Recommendations ! Oxfam GB should develop programme capacity to address global climate change, integrated as elements of right to a sustainable livelihood (SCO1) and right to life and security (SCO3). ! Initially a working group of staff from regional centres, humanitarian department, policy department and media should be tasked to develop a coherent and phased approach and an organisation-wide strategy. ! Some initial, modest alliance building and advocacy will be slowly stepped up based on our existing public policy, programme experience and the new analysis in this paper. ! Improve internal knowledge management about the impact of climate change on poor communities. ! An advocacy pilot programme will be undertaken that attempts to link climate change issues to the anticipated intense monsoon period in August 2001, with specific reference to the River Basin Programme in South Asia. A preparatory background briefing paper should be available for the Bonn follow-up meeting of COP-6, in May 2001. ii
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