Weak climate deal a major let-down for world's poor

By agency reporter
20 Dec 2009

The Catholic development agency Progressio says those it works with have reacted with anger to the weak global agreement on climate change reached at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen this weekend.

Fabiola Quishpe, an indigenous farmer and community leader from rural Ecuador, who attended the first week of the summit, said world leaders had sanctioned the continuing destruction of ‘mother earth’.

“The outcome means that governments will continue polluting our mother earth and we in Ecuador will continue to be affected by the changing climate,” she said.

Juvinal Dias from Progressio partner L’ao Hamutuk, in East Timor said: “We will be angry for a long time because urgent action had to be taken. We are very vulnerable to climate change in East Timor. The fisherman in my country may lose their livelihoods and have to go and live in the mountains because as our sea levels rise, some important places will disappear."

The climate summit’s weak outline of a global agreement fell far short of what Britain and many poor countries were seeking. The ‘Copenhagen Accord’ merely ‘recognises’ the scientific case for keeping temperature rises to no more than 2C and fails to include commitments to emissions reductions to achieve that goal.

As the end of the summit approached and a deal looked increasingly unlikely, a coaltion of 30 NGO leaders from the developing world comprised of Progressio partners and staff warned: "If Copenhagen achieves nothing, the resulting delay to securing these vital agreements will be a terrible sentence for all human beings and the planet. The earth is a unique global ecosystem in which everything is interrelated. Today, misery afflicts many peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Tomorrow other countries will face extinction too."

Tim Aldred, Progressio’s head of policy, said the summit outcomes were an ‘unacceptable failure of global leadership.’

“It is very sad that the most powerful politicians on earth have, in effect, betrayed people like Fabiola who come from poor communities and who are already coping with the droughts, floods, water shortages and storms linked to climate change.”

He added: “The voices of people worldwide called in their millions for world leaders to set aside self interest and to act together with courage. World leaders said they were listening, but they have not heard the calls. They have failed to act adequately despite being in full knowledge of the consequences of inaction for the planet, and the potential misery faced by hundreds of millions of people, some who are already suffering.

“The position is utterly unacceptable. The poor people that Progressio works with called ahead of this summit for urgent fair, ambitious and binding action. They are still waiting.”

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