The Right to Survive in a Changing Climate | Oxfam

Please download to get full document.

View again

of 9
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Information Report
Category:

Documents

Published:

Views: 21 | Pages: 9

Extension: PDF | Download: 0

Share
Related documents
Description
Driven by upward trends in the number of climate-related disasters and human vulnerability to them, by 2015 the average number of people affected each year by climate-related disasters could increase by over 50 per cent to 375 million. This figure is likely to continue to rise as climate change gathers pace - increasing the frequency and/or severity of such events - and poverty and inequality force ever more people to live in high-risk places, such as flood plains, steep hillsides and urban slums, while depriving them of the means to cope with disaster. Climate change is a human tragedy that threatens to completely overload the humanitarian system. The potential human costs are unimaginable, and will be borne overwhelmingly by those least responsible for causing the problem: the world's poor.
Transcript
  Oxfam background paper The Right to Survive in a Changing Climate Summary We are seeing the effects of climate change. Any year can be a freak, but the  pattern looks pretty clear to be honest…this is here and now, this is with us already. Sir John Holmes, UN under-secretary for humanitarian affairs, the  Guardian , 5 October 2007 Driven by upward trends in the number of climate-related disasters and human vulnerability to them, by 2015 the average number of people affected each year by climate-related disasters could increase by over 50 per cent to 375 million. This figure will continue to rise as climate change gathers pace – increasing the frequency and/or severity of such events – and poverty and inequality force ever more people to live in high-risk places, such as flood plains, steep hillsides and urban slums, while depriving them of the means to cope with disaster. Climate change is a human tragedy which threatens to completely overload the humanitarian system. The potential human costs are unimaginable, and will be borne overwhelmingly by those least responsible for causing the problem: the world’s poor. The responsibility for climate change lies with industrialised countries, which must take urgent action to: ã stop harming – by cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2020; and ã start helping – by accepting their obligations to pay for adaptation in the developing world – at least $50bn a year – and bolstering the humanitarian system. So far, industrialised-country action on all these fronts has been nowhere near what is required, with the result that hundreds of millions of lives and livelihoods from now and into the future are at risk.  Disasters are on the increase Climate-related disasters are becoming more and more common, and have more than doubled since the 1980s. 1  Reported floods alone have increased four-fold since the beginning of that decade. 2  2007 saw floods in 23 African and 11 Asian countries that were the worst in memory. Two hurricanes and heavy rains hit much of Central America; almost half the state of Tabasco in Mexico was flooded. In 2008, Cyclone Nargis devastated large swathes of Burma/Myanmar and a particularly vicious hurricane season wrought havoc across Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the USA. Such events steal lives and destroy livelihoods. Since the 1980s, the average number of people reported as affected by climate-related disasters has risen from 121 to 243 million a year – an increase of over 100 per cent. 3 This trend is set to continue: new research for the Oxfam International report The Right to Survive , projects that by 2015, the average number of people affected each year by climate-related disasters may have grown by over 50 per cent to 375 million. 4  This is expected to be driven by increasing numbers of small- and medium-scale disasters – precisely those that fail to make the headlines and that attract the least humanitarian assistance. Figure 1: Forecast increase in numbers affected by climate-related disasters 50100150200250300350400         1        9        8        0        1        9        8        5        1        9        9        0        1        9        9        5        2        0        0        0        2        0        0        5        2        0        1        0        2        0        1        5 Smoothed TotalsLinear Trend 1980-2007Forecast 2008-2015    P  e  o  p   l  e  a   f   f  e  c   t  e   d   b  y   C   l   i  m  a   t  e  -  r  e   l  a   t  e   d   d   i  s  a  s   t  e  r  s   (  m   i   l   l   i  o  n  s   )   2  Changing climate It is extremely difficult to attribute a particular weather event to climate change. Rather, climate change makes certain types of events more likely. And as climate change gathers pace, the balance is likely to shift towards a greater frequency and/or severity of weather-related disasters. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts: 5 ã with ‘high confidence’ that the area subject to extreme drought will grow significantly in the coming decades, and that as soon as 2020, between 75 and 250 million Africans may be exposed to increased water stress; ã a ‘very likely’ increase in the frequency of hot extremes, heat waves and heavy rainfall within the current century; ã a ‘likely’ increase in the intensity of tropical cyclones (typhoons and hurricanes) within the current century. Such trends may already be apparent. A recent international conference of climate scientists organised to review the latest evidence produced since the IPCC made these forecasts concluded that the IPCC’s worst-case scenarios are being realised or even exceeded, and global temperatures, sea level rise, and extreme climatic events are already moving beyond ‘patterns of natural variability’. 6 Increasing vulnerability While climate change increases people’s exposure to disasters, it is their vulnerability  to them that determines whether they survive, and if they do, whether their livelihoods are destroyed. People’s vulnerability is inextricably linked with poverty. In rich countries, an average of 23 people die in any given disaster, in least-developed countries, the average is 1,052. 7  Poor people live in poorly constructed homes, often on land more exposed to hazards such as floods, droughts, or landslides, and in areas without effective health services or infrastructure. They have fewer assets to use or sell to cope in the aftermath of a disaster. Vulnerability is increasing. Rapid urbanisation in developing countries means that slums are expanding onto precarious land. The global food crisis is estimated to have increased the number of hungry people in the world to just under 1 billion. 8  Poor maintenance of infrastructure in developing countries is exacerbating the impacts of extreme weather. 9  Now the global economic crisis is driving up unemployment and poverty, while undermining social safety nets. 10 Undoubtedly developing countries need to do more to reduce the vulnerability of their populations to disasters, but climate change will make this increasingly difficult. First, creeping, insidious changes in weather such as a steady rise in temperatures, shortening growing seasons and unpredictable rainfall patterns will undermine rural 3  livelihoods. Second, the cumulative effect of more frequent climate-related disasters will send poor people tumbling into a downward spiral of increasing vulnerability as their assets are eroded, resulting in longer and longer recovery times. In 2007, Haiti bore the full force of Hurricane Dean (see Box 1). The following year, it was hit by four storms in less than a month – a succession of compounding disasters that left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and unable to meet their basic needs. ‘I don’t have a husband and I have four children to take care of. I am the only person in the family who provides or everyone. I will do my best to get my shop back, butat this moment I have no idea how I will do that. I have never witnessed a hurricane like this. I’ve noticed when it rains, it rains harder, and the hurricanes are stronger.’ Box 1: Destruction of livelihoods in Haiti In August 2007, Hurricane Dean hit the coastal area of Bainet in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world. Some 1,050 homes were destroyed and countless livelihoods lost with the devastation of the fishing and agricultural sectors. Bernadette Henri, 41, lost her shop in the storm. ‘I sell food and other bits and pieces in my grocery shop to make a living. I had the shop for four years and I was making an OK living. I was in Port au Prince when I heard that a hurricane was going to hit the area. I returned, but didn’t have any time to gather my possessions or save the things in my shop. I came back to discover that my shop had been totally destroyed; this is all that’s left of it.’ Bernadette Henri, Haiti, after Hurricane Dean Bernadette Henri sits where her shop used to be in Bainet. It was destroyed by Hurricane Dean. Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam The greatest injustice of our time Climate change is a human tragedy. It is set to overload the humanitarian system and destroy the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, today and into the future. It is in developing countries that exposure to climate-related disasters is greatest. And it is the poor people in these countries who are the most vulnerable. The human costs of climate change will be borne overwhelmingly by the world’s poor people – precisely those least responsible for causing it. 4
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks