on 4th December 2012

From Doha to Azagor: Do the right thing

While the nations of the world disagree on the best way to tackle climate change in Doha, people in Niger are already dealing with the reality of shifting seasons and extreme weather.

Omar Tankari, CARE’s National Advocacy Manager for the Adaptation Learning Programme, imagines what women from the Azagor Touareg Group, in eastern central Niger, would tell Ministers meeting in Qatar.

The latest report from the World Bank, which outlined the realities of life on Earth with an average global temperature rise of 4 degrees by the end of the century, has sounded the alarm: we are now hurtling towards a world of devastating climate impacts.

Nevertheless, the country delegates taking part in this year’s UN climate talks in Doha are struggling to agree on a minimum agenda to keep our climate to a sustainable level for life.

CARE is here as part of the international NGO community pushing for a legally binding climate agreement. This includes recognition of the disasters which are exacerbated by climate change in vulnerable countries, and a sustainable funding mechanism which supports vulnerable populations to adapt to a climate-damaged world. Above all, we need a rapid and urgent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. All of these demands are critical to help provide a strong response to climate change and its devastating impacts.

But are country delegates and their Ministers listening to us? For two weeks, little progress has been made. Several developed countries no longer want a second Kyoto Protocol, which set binding obligations on industrialised countries to reduce their emissions. Discussions on other key issues (adaptation, mitigation, finance, technology transfer) are mired in legal arguments and nuances of wording which do not address the underlying problems. Too many countries are focussing on their “national circumstances” rather than working for a common interest.

What strikes me, as someone who works with communities who are living on the front line of climate change impacts in Niger, is the staggering difference between what is happening here in Doha and the daily tragedies I see on the ground. While sitting here in the halls and corridors of the Qatar National Convention Centre, I imagine what the women from the Azagor Touareg Group, in eastern central Niger, might say if they had an opportunity to address delegates:

“You do not seem to understand what happens in the real world. You do not see the distress we have experienced since the great drought which crippled Niger in 1984. We lost our cattle, we were forced to change our way of life. The pastures we used to roam with our animals have been continually reduced in size as people plant crops for food. Our homeland is continuously threatened, we are forced to make longer and significant efforts to fetch water.”

“If only you could imagine the growing difficulties we face to feed our children, our livestock, and to live in dignity. We have been fighting for 30 years against the devastating effects of more extreme weather, including less rain and increased heat. We do not understand your complicated discussions on monitoring, reporting and verification. And we don’t know how you will ever be able measure the enormous losses we are suffering.”

“Ladies and gentlemen negotiators, Ministers, for now we ask you one thing: please make the right decisions for people like us. Do what is fair, and do it fast.”

The failed harvest, brought on by drought, has driven millet prices up

Author
Omar Tankari

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