Climate change threatens humanitarian crisis, aid system collapses, UN warns
GLASGOW (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – In the six years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015, Madagascar has only experienced one decent rainy season, leaving more than a million people severely hungry in this region. island nation of South East Africa.
Drought and unexpected sandstorms have ruined crops in the south, according to the United Nations World Food Program, forcing families to eat locusts, wild leaves and cacti, with their malnourished children too weak to laugh or cry.
About 14,000 people in Madagascar are now on the brink of famine.
From Madagascar to Afghanistan, where drought displaces people already in conflict, warmer global temperatures are fueling hunger, poverty and migration among tens of millions of people in the most fragile countries, have warned the UN agencies on Tuesday.
Aid workers are struggling to keep up with the growing number of disasters, even with global warming of 1.2 degrees Celsius today, UN humanitarian agency OCHA said during COP26 climate talks in Glasgow , highlighting the challenges of operating in troubled places like Haiti, Mali and Yemen.
“An increase of 2.7C, our current trajectory, or beyond would lead to a galloping global humanitarian crisis, the scale of which would seriously threaten the collapse of the (aid) system,” he said in a statement. preview of a report to be released early. Next year.
The research points out that from 2000 to 2019, nearly 7,000 disasters were recorded worldwide, an 83% increase from the previous two decades, with flooding increasing by 134% during the same period and events temperature extremes of 232%.
“I think we’ve already run out of time,” Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, OCHA’s chief policy officer, told reporters in Glasgow.
âTens of millions of people have now run out of time, because for them, the climate crisis is real, it is daily, it is irreversible and it is now.
Aid agencies have called for more funds to be devoted to efforts to help vulnerable countries adapt to the most extreme weather conditions and rising sea levels that are now affecting most parts of the world, the communities living in them. the poorest being the hardest hit.
Richard Blewitt, who heads international work for the British Red Cross, said the funding available to help people on the frontlines of climate change, many of them in poor African countries, was far too low and falling short of reaching those who needed it most.
He compared the roughly 30 billion euros ($ 34.8 billion) that Germany is deploying to repair damage after the floods this summer, with the floods in Niger in West Africa that are driving people out of the country. at their home.
âWe have great inequity in the fight against our climate crisis,â he said.
Agencies called on governments to keep their broken pledge to provide $ 100 billion a year from 2020 to help developing countries tackle climate change and ensure that the money makes a difference in the economy. life in places like Niger and South Sudan.
Boost for funds
In an effort to build the resilience of people vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, donor governments this week made new contributions to two key funds set up to help the world’s poorest countries adapt to a more planet. hot.
On Monday, the UK government said more than $ 232 million had been committed to the Adaptation Fund, its biggest mobilization, by itself and others, including the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Qatar, Spain and Switzerland. .
The European Commission followed up with a new pledge of 100 million euros ($ 115 million) to the fund.
In addition, over $ 450 million has been mobilized for initiatives and programs that strengthen local approaches to adaptation, while Britain has allocated Â£ 290 million (around $ 393 million) of its funding. climate change for adaptation, including a broad resilience agenda in Asia.
At COP26 on Tuesday, 12 donor governments pledged $ 413 million to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Fund, the only climate resilience fund that targets the 46 poorest countries and has helped more than 50 million people since 2001.
Yet despite the new money, adaptation finance – at just over $ 20 billion a year – remains well below the estimated $ 70 billion annually among developing countries – an amount that could reach $ 300 billion by 2030, the United Nations said last week. .
In the Paris Agreement, governments said they would aim for a balance between international funding for emission reductions and adaptation in vulnerable countries.
But so far, only about a quarter of climate finance is spent on programs to build resilience through such things as installing early warning systems for storms and floods, planting mangroves in coastal areas and the adoption of drought tolerant crops.
Jagan Chapagain, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said world leaders “were making progress, but pledges at COP26 so far were” too small and out of balance “.
He called for more support for adaptation and repairing the “loss and damage” caused by climate change, adding “we need to ensure that this funding really reaches the most vulnerable communities.”
At a UN event on Monday, a Filipino official explained how his government is working to lower the cost of flood insurance for small businesses by pooling risk and using geolocation.
The head of Niger’s meteorological service, meanwhile, presented a nationwide flood atlas and a system to train villagers and use WhatsApp to warn them before rivers overflow, noting that 2 million people had been affected by flooding since 2010.
The German government has said it plans to devote 5% of its humanitarian spending to such “anticipatory action” by 2023.
UN agencies, meanwhile, have said the world needs a major scaling-up of the test projects they and others have conducted, from Bangladesh to Ethiopia and Malawi.
Selwin Hart, UN deputy secretary-general for climate action, said climate impacts were now “unprecedented” and would intensify even if global temperature targets were met, calling for urgent action and funding to ensure the safety of people on the front lines.
âWe know that adaptation and resilience work, and early investments protect lives and livelihoods,â he said. âFinancial tools and instruments, and technological solutionsâ¦ are available now. “ âReport from Megan Rowling @meganrowling; edited by Alister Doyle