Climate change adds to humanitarian risks: aid group

Climate change adds to humanitarian risks: aid group

Bangkok: Natural disasters in Asia over the past week highlight the growing humanitarian impacts of global warming and the urgent need for an ambitious climate pact, a relief and development group said on Tuesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of UN climate talks in the Thai capital, World Vision said floods in India and a typhoon in the Philippines had hit the poor, who stand to suffer most from a lack of action by rich nations to fight climate change.

Developing nations and relief groups are calling on rich countries to take the lead to avert the worst of more intense droughts, floods, melting glaciers and rising seas.

“The linkage between humanitarian impact and climate change is very much on our doorstep here in Asia," Richard Rumsey, director of disaster risk reduction and community resilience, told a news conference.

“This is not just normal disasters, this is on top of existing disasters. Across Asia, you’ve seen other crises, you’ve seen earthquakes and tsunamis."

Floods triggered by heavy rains in south India over the past week have killed some 250 people and left 2.5 million homeless. A typhoon in the Philippines has killed 22 people.

Rumsey said resources at humanitarian groups were being stretched with the need to provide immediate disaster relief and also to help developing countries come up with longer-term solutions to deal with climate change.

For example, World Vision was helping communities in the Philippines plant mangroves to strengthen coastal defences and offer a means of fighting global warming with the soaking up of carbon dioxide from the air.

But the group called for more action from developed nations, blamed by critics for not taking the lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and for providing insufficient financial and technological aid to poorer nations to deal with climate change.

“It does not seem to have sunk into some negotiators that we are facing a global humanitarian emergency," said Brett Parris, World Vision’s chief economist and climate change policy director.

“Many are treating it effectively like a trade negotiation, jockeying for economic advantage. That’s not the situation we’re in. We’re facing a global humanitarian emergency that demands serious financing and serious targets."