‘Put the future of our planet ahead of political concerns,’ says Trócaire

Charity June 19, 2012, 12:00

‘Put the future of our planet ahead of political concerns,’ says Trócaire

Trócaire launches major new research on eve of Rio de Janeiro conference

The equivalent of the combined populations of Cork, Limerick and Galway cities die every year as a result of factors relating to climate change, Trócaire warned today (19 June 2012) on the eve of the global conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro.

Trócaire Director Justin Kilcullen called on politicians gathering at the talks, including Irish Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan TD, to “put aside short-term political concerns and start addressing the long-term risk to life on this planet”.

Justin Kilcullen said:

“It’s time we all got real about climate change. It isn’t an abstract scientific notion – it is a very real threat to the future of life on this planet and poor people in developing countries are already being hit hardest. Global figures indicate that over 300,000 people around the world die each year from climate change-related issues and that figure is expected to rise to 500,000 by 2030. What will it take before the world faces up to tackling the challenges of climate change?

"Attempts to reduce poverty around the world are being fundamentally undermined by climate change, yet the world appears unwilling to respond with the urgency that is required. This problem simply cannot be ignored any longer.”

Trócaire today launched the results of a two-year research project into the impact of climate change on communities in four countries: Kenya, Malawi, Honduras and Bolivia.

Amongst the findings are:

  • Poverty and hunger are being intensified by rises in temperature and increases in drought, storms and floods.
  • Farmers are cutting their livestock numbers as fodder and water become increasingly scarce, while others are moving out of farming altogether into low-paid and insecure jobs.
  • People are migrating from rural to urban centres in large numbers. Many families are reliant on money sent home from family members abroad.
  • Support for poor communities is inadequate and their options limited by government policies.

Justin Kilcullen said the study highlights that the most vulnerable people are being hit first and hardest by climate change and the urgent need to step up action at all levels:

“This research reaffirms the fact that the people being hit hardest by climate change are the people with the least ability to respond. The impacts of climate change are being felt around the world but it is the poorest people on the planet who being hit hardest. The time for action is now.”

About the Trócaire research:

Trócaire monitored how people were responding to climate risks in seven communities across four countries over a two-year period. The communities were in the Bolivian Highlands (South America), northern Honduras (Central America), central Kenya (East Africa) and southern Malawi (Southern Africa). The research included surveys, interviews and discussion forums.

Bolivia - Households are experiencing a variety of climatic changes, including rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns. These changes are affecting their ability to produce food. There are also indications of social tensions as a result of increasing competition for water.

Honduras – Up to 28 per cent of families surveyed were reliant on family members abroad to send money home.  This money from abroad is core to many families’ livelihoods but has decreased as jobs are lost in the downturn in the US economy. Small-scale farming in the area has been severely undermined because of intense weather events such as storms and floods and lack of access to land, with people forced to work low-paid and highly insecure jobs for rich plantation owners.

Kenya – The number of people who cited ‘lack of food’ as their biggest problem almost doubled from 35 to 60 per cent over the course of the study. Rainfall in central Kenya has declined by roughly 15 per cent since the 1970s.

Malawi – Increasingly unpredictable weather patterns are exacerbating food shortage risks in Malawi.  Farmers lack access to the equipment and training needed to diversify their production and spread the risk of crop failure.

A complete copy of this new research study entitled ‘Shaping Strategies: factors and actors in climate change adaptation; Lessons from two-year case studies in Africa and Latin America’ can be downloaded from www.trocaire.org.

For further information, please contact:

Michelle Hoctor, Communications Manager (00353) 86 8124352
Eoghan Rice, Communications Officer (00353) 86 2071942