on 23rd November 2013

Governments miss opportunity to tackle growing climate crisis

Against the backdrop of super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, severe floods in Vietnam and stark new warnings from climate scientists, key governments are still failing to tackle the growing climate crisis, aid organisation CARE International says.

The UN climate talks in Warsaw (COP19), which ended today, have been overshadowed by a serious lack of ambition from host country Poland to address both its reliance on coal and the apparent associated influence of the fossil fuel lobby on Poland’s approach to the talks, frustrating ambition and trust amongst countries CARE says.

CARE Secretary General Robert Glasser said: “Governments are leaving Warsaw with little progress to avert the climate crisis which is increasingly impacting the lives of millions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Rising sea levels, melting glaciers and increasingly extreme and erratic weather events are undermining development and trapping people in a permanent state of emergency.”

“Perversely, the world’s poorest people have done the least to cause climate change but are also bearing the highest costs; this is a grave social injustice which requires urgent action right now on the part of rich nations. There is no excuse for inaction or further delay.”

Sven Harmeling, CARE International’s Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator, said: “These talks demonstrate that a few key wealthy countries can slow down tangible progress to tackle climate change. The failure of these countries to understand and react to the true gravity of the situation facing the world inflicts increasing risks and impacts on vulnerable developing countries and their people. In particular, key developed countries have:

  • Backtracked on previous commitments to reduce emissions and
  • Failed to provide the necessary confidence to developing countries that sufficient finance for ambitious climate action will be made available.

Such behaviour has consistently undermined the talks by creating an atmosphere of mistrust and low ambition. This has contributed to stripping out and watering down the roadmap towards a new robust climate agreement in 2015 by some developed countries and a number of powerful developing countries.

There are, however, some glimmers of hope:

  • Developing countries have sent a strong message of unity by standing together in the face of much pressure to consistently call for an ‘international mechanism’ to address loss and damage from climate change impacts. The spirit of compromise from many countries has resulted in the establishment of the new ‘Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage associated with climate change impacts.’ This is a significant step forward to begin to address the issue of loss and damage but is yet to be transformed into a strong and meaningful mechanism.
  • Some European countries have pledged additional finance to fund climate change adaptation, however the funds are still only a drop in the ocean compared to what’s required for effective adaptation in developing countries.

Sven Harmeling says:

“We need to see a rapid rebuilding of trust between all governments and significantly increased commitment to tackle the climate crisis. This includes a collective spirit to agree emissions reductions that ensure global warming is limited to below 1.5 degrees as quickly as possible. If not, the world will collectively fail to protect the world’s poorest people from the growing climate catastrophe.”

Sven Harmeling concludes: “CARE urgently calls on all governments to get serious about climate change – as the costs of inaction are unthinkable. We can’t let the planet or these climate negotiations descend into chaos. If countries don’t urgently step up their ambition ahead of Ban Ki-moon’s high-level summit next year, and COP20 in Peru, the chances of achieving a meaningful climate deal by 2015 and avoiding dangerous climate change are looking increasingly unlikely. There is still a lot of work to do activate climate colleagues in civil society and national governments to work together to achieve higher levels of collective action.”


For further information contact Jo Barrett, Communications Coordinator, Poverty, Environment and Climate Change Network on +44 (0)7940 703911 jbarrett@careclimatechange.org

CARE is a leading humanitarian organisation fighting global poverty and providing lifesaving assistance in emergencies. In more than 80 countries around the world, CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to help lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. To find out more see: www.careclimatechange.org

COP19 opening Warsaw 2013


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