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Act now to halt climate crisis, aid agency says

03 January 2020

Christian Aid warns that weather will become more extreme


Waterlogged: at least 47 people were killed by Typhoon Phanfone, which battered the Philippines and caused drastic flooding over Christmas. The typhoon, which hit land on Christmas Day, prompted the evacuation of more than 106,000 people and stranded thousands over Christmas. The Pope said that he would be praying “for the numerous victims, for the wounded and for their families”. More than 378,000 houses were destroyed, the Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said on Monday. Reaching wind speeds of 200km/h, the typhoon caused trees and electricity pylons to collapse. Phanfone was the 21st typhoon to hit the Philippines in the past year

Waterlogged: at least 47 people were killed by Typhoon Phanfone, which battered the Philippines and caused drastic flooding over Christmas. The typhoo...

THIS year is going to be a “huge year” for how the world responds to the climate crisis, the co-author of a Christian Aid report on extreme weather in 2019 has said.

Speaking last Friday, the charity’s global climate lead, Dr Kat Kramer, said: “Last year, emissions continued to rise; so it’s essential that nations prepare these new and enhanced pledges for action to the Paris agree­ment as soon as possible.

”That will ensure the world re­­sponds urgently to the warnings of scientists, as well as the demands from schoolchildren around the globe who are horrified at the kind of world they are being forced to inherit.”

She co-wrote Counting the Cost 2019: A year of climate break­down, which identifies 15 of the most de­­structive weather events of the year, all of which had a link with climate change.

The disasters investigated in­­­cluded flooding in countries such as Argentina and north India (News, 19 July 2019), Cyclone Idai in southern Africa (News, 21 March 2019), and Hurricane Dorian, which hit North America (News, 6 Septem­ber 2019).

The report reads: “2019 was not the new normal. The world’s weather will continue to become ever-more extreme and people around the world will continue to pay the price. The challenge ahead is to minimize the impacts through deep and rapid emissions cuts.”

PAAnkle-deep: a man wades through the flooded River Brahmaputra in Assam, India, in July. Millions were affected by floods caused by heavier than usual monsoon rains. The deaths of 91 people were reported

The report outlines the de­­struc­tion caused by a natural disaster, and then connects it directly with climate change. For example, it says that Cyclone Idai killed “1300 people, making it one of the deadliest South­ern Hemi­sphere cyclones on rec­ord”. It goes on to argue: “Scientists have drawn a direct connection be­­tween Idai and climate change, with human green­house gas emissions blamed for increasing the rainfall and coastal flooding that made the storm so dangerous.”

The report concludes that coun­tries, particular richer ones, need to commit to reducing their carbon emissions, and work towards zero-emissions targets, and mobilise funds to help poorer coun­tries.

Dr Adelle Thomas, the director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of the Bahamas, senior research associate at Climate Analytics, and one of the lead au­thors of the IPCC’s Sixth Assess­ment Report, said last week: “In small-island developing states, such as the Bahamas, where I’m from, we’ve experienced first-hand the repeated devastation caused by the climate crisis. Most recently, the record-breaking Hurricane Dorian destroyed lives, livelihoods, and our sense of security.

“This was, unfortunately, not an isolated event, as multiple hurricanes in recent years have resulted in unprecedented devastation through­out the Caribbean region. The great tragedy of climate change is that it is the poorest and most vulnerable who suffer the most, despite us doing the least to cause it.”

The director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, Professor Michael Mann, said: “If anything, 2019 saw even more profound extreme weather events around the world than [2018], including wildfires from the Amazon through to the Arctic . . . winter heatwaves, and devastating superstorms.

”With each day now we are seem­ingly reminded of the cost of climate in­action in the form of ever-threatening climate-change-spiked weather extremes.”

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