'Remember the human face of climate change', says Rowan Williams

By agency reporter
27 Mar 2014

Christian Aid today (27 March) publishes a new report showing the devastating effects of climate change, with communities worldwide, particularly in worst hit poorer countries, being forced to change their way of life.

While record-breaking floods in the UK received massive media coverage, along with broad acceptance that climate change was to blame, the voices of those suffering even greater impacts have largely gone unheard.

Using personal stories from seven different countries; Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, Malawi, El Salvador, Bolivia and the Philippines, the report Taken by Storm: responding to the impacts of climate change, reveals the stark reality of life as a result of extreme weather events such as drought and flooding.

The report is intended to put a human face to the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which on Monday will publish its latest report on the impacts of climate change.

Among other things it is expected to say that Africa will experience rising temperatures with less rainfall in arid regions. Child malnutrition is likely to be a serious risk as food quality and quantity is affected.

In a foreword introducing Taken by Storm, Dr Rowan Williams, Chair of Christian Aid, says: "These are stories from some of the poorest people in the world. Those who suffer most acutely from the menacing effects of climate change, such as the quilombolas of Brazil, or the pastoralists in northern Kenya, are those who have done least to contribute to it; and there is a deep injustice in this.

"Among all the facts and statistics, the summits and debates, it is essential for us to remember the specific human faces of those who suffer because of climate instability.

"Far from being a vague threat in the distant future, a warming world is very much a present reality, with global temperatures already having risen by 0.8°C since before the industrial revolution. Stronger storm surges, heavier rain, and scarcer resources are part of what countless people across the world live with daily, with far fewer resources to deal with it than we have in the developed world."

As well as showing the different ways people are experiencing a distorted climate, the Christian Aid report outlines some of the ingenious ways people are adapting their lifestyles to survive.

Measures range from farmers receiving weather forecasts by text message in Kenya, to the introduction of saltwater resistant ducks in flooded Bangladesh. Despite this resilience, the report is clear that adaptation measures offer only a temporary solution.

Report author Dr Alison Doig, Christian Aid’s Senior Climate Change Adviser, said it was crucial that politicians took heed of the clear warnings from both the international scientific community and those suffering first-hand.

"People living on the front line of climate change are the canaries in the climate coalmine", she said. "But their plight is more than just a warning of what many other parts of the world can expect.

"These are individuals paying the price for the actions of wealthy nations and people grown rich through continued dependence on polluting fossil fuels.

"It is vital that politicians hear their voices and heed the warnings of the IPCC and make tackling climate change a priority if we are to pass on a safe planet fit for future generations."

* Read Christian Aid's report Taken by Storm here: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/Taken-by-storm-climate-change-repo...

[Ekk/4]

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 England & Wales License. Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.