EMERGENCY RELIEF IS NOT ENOUGH
For the second year in a row – as government negotiators from approximately 190 countries gather to discuss climate change – a massive typhoon has swept through The Philippines, destroying homes and communities, killing thousands of people and impoverishing many more.
Philippine authorities say that at least two million people from 41 provinces have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan and as many as 10,000 may be dead. More than 600,000 have been evacuated in Vietnam, which is also in the storm’s path.
“Climate change is killing my country,” says Beckie Malay, a GCAP Global Council member who also works with the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM). “Yes, we urgently need to help the families affected by the typhoon. But that is just a band-aid. If the countries meeting for the COP negotiations in Warsaw have any conscience at all, they will take action immediately to reduce carbon emissions and assist countries like mine which are not responsible for climate change but are suffering the consequences.”
Women also suffer the consequences dispropotionately more than men. In The Philippines, men are traditionally responsible for rebuilding, but women must pick up the pieces immediately to ensure that their families are clothed, have clean drinking water and food to eat. A series of tribunals by the Feminist Task Force, GCAP and Greenpeace International in fifteen countries demonstrated that women’s incomes – which are more likely to be tied to farming – are hit the hardest by climate change, while a lack of basic necessities like clean water increases women’s workloads and psychological stress.
The Philippines’ lead negotiator to the UN climate talks which are taking place in Warsaw, Poland this week argues that business as usual is not acceptable. “The climate crisis is madness,” Naderev ‘Yeb’ Sano told his international colleagues, before adding that he would go on a hunger strike until meaningful achievements are made. “We refuse to accept that running away from storms, evacuating our families, suffering the devastation and misery, having to count our dead, become a way of life. We simply refuse to.”
At these UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations, countries must agree to :
“It’s much easier to give aid when a disaster happens,” adds Beckie Malay. “We need to take actions now to make sure that these so-called ‘natural’ disasters do not happen again.”
“There is no way to see the suffering and then look the other way,” says GCAP co-chair Marta Benavides, whose own country, El Salvador, has also suffered from unprecedented severe flooding. “Who can be so soul-less and heartless? We expect that the COP makes a real breakthrough. This is what the citizens of the world are demanding.”
Rebecca L. Malay
ABOUT THE FTF AND GCAP
The Global Call to Action Against Poverty challenges the structures and institutions that perpetuate poverty and inequality. More information at www.whiteband.org.
The Feminist Task Force promotes a women’s rights agenda and calls for Gender Equality to End Poverty. More information at www.feministtaskforce.org.