Monday, December 02, 2019

The Climate Emergency is Happening Now

Over the past decade, climate-fuelled disasters drove over 20 million people a year from their homes, concluded a report released by Oxfam.

"Today people are seven times more likely to be internally displaced by cyclones, floods and wildfires as they are by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and three times more likely than by conflict," the report said.  

While no one is immune, people in poor countries are most at risk, the NGO said. "People in low and lower-middle income countries such as India, Nigeria and Bolivia are over four times more likely to be displaced by extreme weather disasters than people in rich countries such as the United States."
Seven of the top 10 countries with the highest displacement by proportion of their population were small island developing states, largely in the Pacific and the Caribbean, the report found. Asia is the continent most affected, said Oxfam, noting that around 80% of all people displaced over the last decade live there.
Overall, the number of weather disasters considered extreme grew five-fold over the last decade, researchers said. As more people leave their homes as a result of weather disasters, costs — and threats to social stability — are rising quickly for the countries trying to manage that displacement, often with few resources, the report said.
"Our governments are fuelling a crisis that is driving millions of women, men and children from their homes and the poorest people in the poorest countries are paying the heaviest price," said Chema Vera, Acting Executive Director of Oxfam International.

"This is the warming world we have long been warning about. Now we're seeing it play out before our eyes," said Tim Gore, Oxfam's climate policy leader.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said it was widely accepted that one of the most severe effects of climate change would be on human migration.
"Extreme weather events are already displacing many more people than violent conflicts," she said on a panel with leaders of vulnerable countries at the talks. "Slow onset events like sea-level rise and desertification get even lower global focus." She said international discussions should focus on helping affected countries relocate people at risk and protect those who have been displaced.

ctionAid and scores of other green and development groups want this year's U.N. climate change talks to agree to set up a fund to bail out countries on the frontline of "loss and damage" as a hotter planet brings wilder weather and rising seas.
Sven Harmeling, who leads on climate change policy for aid agency CARE International, said U.N. science reports in the past year had made clear that worsening damage will happen. "This is a reality that many people on this planet already confront today," he told journalists. In efforts to avoid such harm, "many years" had been lost due to insufficient efforts to cut climate-heating emissions and scant support for people to adapt to growing disaster risks, he said.
The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) has yet to lead to concrete action, especially on providing new sources of finance to deal with climate-related damage, developing countries and humanitarian agencies say. Ever since talks to establish the mechanism started, there has been push-back from governments, including the United States and Australia, against paying money to mend the rising damage in poorer nations. That is despite rich countries having emitted, over the decades, most of the heat-trapping gases that are driving the losses in parts of the world that have contributed little to the problem - and which have few resources to respond to it. Richer states fear compensation claims could soar in the future if emissions continue to increase, fuelling more extreme weather and rising seas.
"It's the wealthier countries who have been emitting for longer that really should be providing the overwhelming share of the resources needed to deal with loss and damage," said Sivan Kartha, senior scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute.

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