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17 April 2013

Climate justice discussion on the table in Dublin

Climate justice discussion on the table in Dublin

Some of the poorest people in the world could benefit from discussions being held in Dublin this week. As delegates from the UN, Irish parliament, the UK’s Department for International Development and beyond meet, Alliance member Tearfund and the IF campaign urge leaders to meet their promise to fund life-changing climate change adaptation work.

Laura Taylor, Tearfund’s head of public policy, explains: “In 2009 world leaders pledged an extra $100 billion a year from new sources to help poor communities adapt, cope and thrive in the face of climate change.

“Bill Gates and others have suggested excellent ways of raising this money but we’ve yet to see any signs of progress.”

International aviation and shipping are promising sources of this money. From today, IF supporters are encouraged to write to Ed Davey, secretary of state for energy and climate change, asking him to keep his promise on ‘climate cash’.

Malawi is one country already feeling the effects of climate change. Changing rain patterns cause dry spells and floods, ruining harvests and increasing levels of hunger and malnutrition.

An estimated two million people in Malawi don’t have enough food. But climate change extends beyond this two million. It is a challenge that is facing poor and vulnerable communities around the world.

Rural villages are already taking action and adapting to the changing weather. With support from Tearfund partner Eagles, villagers are coming together to build flood defences, learn new ways of farming and manage their resources better.

Maxwell, chief of a village near Blantyre, Malawi, describes what this means: “This year, we are privileged that we have learnt something about agriculture to make sure that we are helping each other to adopt this method of farming.

“We are encouraging every household to plant improved varieties of sorghum and millet which are early-maturing so they can cope with changes in climate, adapt to the changes that are happening and have enough food.”

The money pledged by richer nations is needed for projects like these to be replicated, enabling more communities to adapt. Preventive action is proven to be cost effective. A Tearfund study in Malawi found that investing US$1 in helping vulnerable communities to be able to recover quickly from shocks, like flood or drought, delivered US$24 of benefit.

“People are incredibly resilient and resourceful, if we support them they can and will adapt. But they can’t do this alone, and they shouldn’t have to,” says Laura Taylor.

“We celebrated when the UK government kept its promise on overseas aid. Now they need to keep another promise and find the money to deal with the additional burden of climate change.

“Climate finance has been stuck in the doldrums for too long. We hope that Ed Davey will be the wind beneath its sails, bringing a shipping levy one step closer,” she concludes.

Tearfund is a member of the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign: www.tearfund.org/enough.

Photo: Tree planting in Malawi to replace those cut down and sold for fire wood. Credit: Geoff Crawford, Tearfund