Caritas Luxembourg choose twenty ordinary people to see for themselves the impact of climate change on some of the world’s poorest communities. Members of the “180 Degrees Panel” represented a cross section of the population. Most knew nothing about greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and its impact. Only few of them had ever been to a developing country before.
Caritas took them to Bangladesh. When the panellists saw the situation, many were confused at first as to where the issues of environmental change begin and those of poverty end? Even after returning to Luxembourg, some of the panellists were left wondering why organizations such as Caritas cared about increasing numbers of cyclones if people are so obviously confronted with much more urgent needs.
Caritas cares because poor communities are suffering comparatively harder from the effects of climate change than richer countries. This became increasingly clear to the panellists. Firstly, briefings by experts from science and politics convinced the panellists that the complex relationships between the effects of climate change and poverty can have catastrophic consequences. Then more dramatic events in May 2009, when the cyclone Aila hit Bangladesh. It sadly wiped out one of the villages that the panellists had visited just three month earlier.
The 180 Degrees Panel has helped its participants and a wider audience become more aware of the urgency of action on climate change and has shown them the way means that enable them to engage into more climate friendly walks of life.