There has been some striking progress in reducing the death toll from natural disasters in recent decades. While Cyclone Sidr killed around 3,000 people in Bangladesh in 2007, similar or weaker storms killed 100 times that number in 1972 and 45 times more people in 1991, largely because governments and local communities have since taken action to reduce risk.
At Oxfam, we campaign on climate change because it hits poor people first and worst.
Yet most of us, in our day-to-day lives, still don't have a clear sense of how global warming really affects the lives, rights and livelihoods of millions of people around the world. If we are going to get people to wake up to the need for urgent action, then bridging this gap is critical.So how do we "humanize" climate change?
Some people still ask how climate change and poverty fit together. The people in Ethiopia could tell you. While Ethiopia’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions may be relatively small, the people of Ethiopia are facing the challenge of having to adapt to the effects of climate change – such as erratic rainfall, increased temperature, and recurring droughts.
The UN Climate Talks in Poznan went on late into the night last night. I left at about midnight, because frankly I could not understand a word of the proceedings. Every second word was an unfamiliar acronym, an obscure technical term, or a document reference number, so I left the Oxfam policy team to decipher what was happening and met up with them again in the morning.
So I'm sitting down to write today's blog, with my socks on the radiator and my free UN mittens on my icy feet, when I get the call. "Al Gore's giving a speech at 1.15!". I had been about to describe in great detail the new Oxfam ice sculpture that was carved this morning at the entrance to the UN Climate Talks here in Poznan - in two massive blocks of ice - the cold, hard truth - "Delay Kills".
Rich countries have a habit of pointing out how emissions from emerging economies such as China and India are increasing rapidly. This is true - but we need to have a closer look at the facts...
Emission levels per head in China and India are far below those in developed countries. In fact, if every country had the same per capita emissions as China, we would be able to cut gobal emissions by 30% below 1990 levels. So which country's people have had the biggest average carbon footprints between 1990 and 2004? Drag the flags onto the feet in the diagram below to find out...
Despite being responsible for a tiny fraction of historic carbon emissions, it is poor countries that are feeling the effects of climate change. Countries like Peru, where the glaciers communities depend on for agriculture, industry and electricity are disappearing at an alarming rate.
As ministers and leaders arrived yesterday in Poznan (Poland) for the last sprint of the UN Climate change conference in Poznan, 19 famous names called on wealthy nations to take the lead on climate change by making massive cuts in pollution.
Let's bury the idea that discussions on Climate Change are the preserve of scientists. Sure enough, debates on the issue are dominated by projections as to the speed of global warming, the levels of greenhouse gas emissions and so on, but at the heart of these discussions are people.
Sixty years ago today, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This Declaration has helped us combat torture, discrimination and hunger. And now, this venerable document should guide us in the fight against one of the greatest challenges ever to face humankind: climate change.