January 24, 2011

Cambodia’s floating villages show how to rise above climate change

By |24 January 2011|

By Christine Campeau, Climate and Food Security Advisor, Caritas Internationalis  Working on climate justice issues over the past few years, I spend a lot time learning how people around the world are adapting to climate change. I was recently fortunate to experience a unique example of adaptability in Southeast Asia, where I took a trip to the floating villages of Kompong Khleang to see how a local community in Cambodia has dealt with the constant shift in water levels upon which they live. Kompong Kleang is a fishing village that sits on the Tonle Sap Lake, which stretches across the northwest portion of the country. During the rainy season, this lake swells fivefold, flooding the surrounding forest floodplains and supporting an extremely diverse eco-system. This phenomenon is natural and has nothing to do with to the effects of climate change. However, the floating village could be used as a lesson on how to [...]

November 24, 2010

Good news on climate justice from Cancun

By |24 November 2010|

The Cancun summit has not delivered climate justice for poor countries, but it has produced a way forward for a future deal to safeguard the lives of the poor and future generations. The pressure will continue on governments to produce a legally binding deal in Durban South Africa next December. Climate justice will mean deep and urgent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions led by developing countries and secure public finance for poor countries to adapt to climate change and develop sustainably all under a legally binding agreement. Government agreed in Cancun to curb climate change and provide funding for poor countries. Read about the progress made in Cancun and follow reaction from Caritas members on the blog.  Bishop Gustavo Rodriguez Vega, President of Caritas Mexico speaking on behalf of the faith based organizations called for climate justice and for courageous, equitable and binding agreements at Cancun. It seems that his call was not in vain. Read about [...]

October 13, 2010

Brazil’s rainforest in danger

By |13 October 2010|

By Carlos García Paret, a climate activist from the Brazilian Amazon  The situation in Brazil regarding climate change is quite different from that in industrialised nations with higher emissions, such as China, the USA and the EU. As the world's fourth highest producer of greenhouse gases, 50 percent of Brazil's emissions derive from deforestation and forest and savannah fires. No other country is losing forest on the same scale as Brazil, which accounts for one in every two trees fallen in the world. This has resulted in the destruction of 700,000 km2 of rainforest in the last 30 years, and of 120,000 km2 of savannah in the last seven years. The primary explanation for this phenomenon lies in the role Brazil plays in globalisation as an exporter of agricultural commodities. Forest is cut down to obtain timber and to extend the boundaries of land used for grazing and farming (soy beans, [...]

Caritas Mexico gets ready for climate summit

By |13 October 2010|

With Climate talks scheduled for December in Cancun, Caritas Mexico is keeping busy in their planning to raise awareness. Bishop Gustavo Rodriguez Vega, the President of Caritas Mexicana was part of the Caritas Internationalis delegation last year at the climate talks in Copenhagen and is eager to mobilize civil society organisations and the Church in Mexico. Caritas Mexico is organising a Holy Mass for Sunday 05 December and assembling the Caritas family together for a few days of capacity building on the thematic issues covered in the negotiations. Caritas has applied jointly with the World Council of Churches and ACT Alliance for a side event entitled ‘Faith based organisations advocate for climate justice’. If approved, the focus of this discussion will be around how communities address climate change, poverty and sustainable development, offering ethical contributions to international negotiations through awareness raising, social mobilization and advocacy. Caritas, the World Council of Churches and ACT Alliance [...]

Flooding hits poor hardest in Pakistan

By |13 October 2010|

By Mumtaz Bashir Bhatti, Caritas Pakistan  Floods in Pakistan have displaced millions of people, destroyed billions of rupees worth of houses, killed many and washed away all belongings in rural communities from North to South. Is this what global warming looks like? Many scientists think it is. If it was, it is very clear that women and children will be the most affected. When I visited different parts of Southern Pakistan affected by the flood, I found that women and children under the age of 10 were at high risk, and many have been died because of different diseases. There is no immediate food shortage in the country, as Pakistan had its bumper crop last season, but billions of acres of rice and pulse crops has been washed away, which may cause the shortage and high prices in next few months in the country. The situation may deteriorate if farmers miss the winter sowing [...]

Making a million people climate-proof

By |13 October 2010|

By Sasja Kamil, Cordaid (Caritas Netherlands)  Poor communities are by far the most vulnerable to the impacts of natural hazards, climate change and ecosystem degradation. It damages their livelihoods and erodes their resilience. Supporting them requires teamwork. For Cordaid, this collaboration came in the form of the Partners for Resilience - an alliance consisting of five organisations: Cordaid, the Netherlands Red Cross, CARE Nederland, Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre and Wetlands International. They have jointly formulated a 5-year programme in an attempt to climate-proof disaster risk reduction. Objectives: Increase the resilience of communities to disasters, climate change and environmental degradation; Increase the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) to apply disaster risk reduction (DRR), climate-change adaptation (CCA) and ecosystem management and restoration (EMR) measures and conduct policy dialogue; Make the institutional environment - from international to grass-root level - more conducive to integrating disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and ecosystem-based approaches. The Partners for Resilience [...]

Money will talk at Cancun climate summit

By |13 October 2010|

By Christine Campeau, Caritas Internationalis  Financing climate adaptation in developing countries is a must. It will determine the success of the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 16th Conference of the Parties (COP 16) in Cancun, Mexico in 29 November to 10 December 2010. There is widespread pessimism over the lack of significant progress in reaching a climate change accord since the Copenhagen meeting last December. In an attempt to move things forward, Switzerland and Mexico co-hosted a meeting last month in Geneva to shed light on the status of the billions of climate-aid dollars pledged in Copenhagen. Details of this meeting centred on how to raise the pledged US$100 billion in annual long-term financing for 2020. While some view meetings such as this one as progress in the right direction, several critics complain that this is still the tip of the iceberg. Promised climate change aid has no scientific or economic [...]

Who’s under your Carbon footprint?

By |13 October 2010|

By Kathy Brown, Catholic Charities USA  The news from the United States on passing legislation on climate change that would protect the poor throughout the world is not good. Throughout the past year, key Senators have been asked to include and strengthen provisions in climate legislation that would protect poor and vulnerable people, in our country and around the world, from the impacts of climate change and the effects of policies needed to address it. Unfortunately, the Senate will not consider climate legislation this year. Last year, the House of Representatives passed a bill that respected the concerns of the Catholic Church and other faith-based groups. It included moderate funding for domestic and international programs for adaption and mitigation. The Senate came up with their own bill which did not meet the approval of the bishops’ conference. Given that this is an election year, the chances of their being any more work on even [...]

June 30, 2010

Empowering Oceania

By |30 June 2010|

By Tim Walsh, Caritas Oceania A workshop organized by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) was held during the first week of June in Rarotonga, the capital of the Cook Islands. The aim was to improve the coordination of both the emergency and the gradual response to weather events as part of an ongoing effort to manage the effects of climate change. The majority of workshop participants were islanders from Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Mangaia, Mauke and Mitiaro, and included representatives from Caritas Oceania, New Zealand Aid, Red Cross Fiji, the Commission for Justice, Peace and Development, and government officials. There was also a presence from UN agencies and the national office for disaster management (Emergency Management Cook Islands). Participants from the Cook Islands agreed from the onset that, while it is important to present their evolving predicament to the wider international community, the process needs to be implemented [...]

Lessons from Typhoon Morakot

By |30 June 2010|

Typhoon Morakot was the most distressing catastrophe to hit Taiwan in 50 years, devastating several areas in the south of the country. The heavy rainfall on August 8, 2009 caused mudslides and flooding that buried the entire town of Xiaolin. Hundreds of lives were lost and hundreds more were left homeless and displaced. Morakot’s aftermath resulted in billions of dollars in damage to infrastructure, as well as to agriculture that supported the aboriginal people.

Water woes in Pakistan

By |30 June 2010|

By Mumtaz Bashir Bhatti, Caritas Pakistan Pakistan contributes little to global warming – responsible for one 35th of the world’s average carbon dioxide emissions. Temperatures in the country’s coastal areas have risen from 0.6 to 1 degree centigrade since the early 1900s. Over the last 40 years, precipitation has decreased 10 to 15 percent in the coastal belt and in the arid plains, while there has been an increase in summer and winter rains in the north. The changing climate has had a negative impact on agricultural production and on export industries such as food, textiles and fisheries. Low-lying areas on the coast are at risk of being inundated and the homes of millions of people will be flooded. Over-grazing, over-fishing, and deforestation for fuel are common in rural areas and have further contributed to the depletion of fresh water. Climate experts in Tharparkar, Pakistan are drawing attention to the severe water [...]

Going green

By |30 June 2010|

At a recent meeting of the Caritas Internationalis Climate Justice Reference Group there was a lively discussion about the “greening” of our offices. We quickly became aware that we are not only talking about environmental issues and the impact they have on the people we work with but we are also personally trying to do something about it. We each shared the ways our organisations are attempting to be more conscious of our ecological footprint. The following are some examples of how members are already lightening their footprint: Caritas Germany is undertaking joint consultations about the greening of their work. They are engaged in a process to find out how to work in ways that are more protective of the environment, in such areas as carpooling and car sharing. Caritas India is drafting a framework assessing how programme activities can be more environmentally friendly. This will be finalised within the next two months. Caritas Belgium is [...]

Fight climate change in Congo to prevent violence

By |30 June 2010|

Climate change may not appear as a priority concern in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country devastated by years of war.

Cambodia threatened by climate change

By |30 June 2010|

On 1 June Caritas along with the Ministry or the Environment and other agencies such as UNDP and Oxfam organised a seminar on climate change in the capital Phonm Penn. About 100 people, including environmentalist, members of government institutions, NGOs and benefactors attended the seminar aimed at discussing strategies to deal with climate change. Most people in Cambodia depend on farming for their livelihoods. 84 percent live in rural areas. Many live in high risk areas from flooding, droughts and cyclones. Kim Rattana of Caritas Cambodia said, "One of the biggest challenges we are facing in our development work is the increasing occurrence of natural disaster. What we have achieved over many years is being destroyed by storms and washed away by floods." Last year, Typhoon Ketsana destroyed hundreds of homes in Cambodia. Caritas Cambodia had to provide 30,000 people with relief items and food. Low water levels in the Mekong this year, the [...]

Heartbreaking story in the Gulf of Mexico

By |30 June 2010|

By Kathy Brown, CCUSA American Caritas member Catholic Charities agencies in Louisiana continue to reach out to those impacted by the environmental disaster still unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. In New Orleans, Catholic Charities has helped over 1,500 fishermen hit by oil spill in 5 relief centers providing food and food vouchers, baby items, counseling, and more. 6227 people (1883 families) have received emergency assistance from Catholic Charities in New Orleans alone. Other diocesan charities agencies are also reaching out all along the Gulf Coast. The oil spill is having a disastrous consequence on the livelihoods of fishermen and their families and also on tourism, a major industry on the Gulf Coast. Quoting from the Bayou Catholic, the diocesan paper of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux (May 13, 2010, Vol. 30, No 23, Houma, LA): [Rob] Gorman (Executive Director of Catholic Charities in Houma-Thibodaux) expressed the hope that, like the miracle of the loaves [...]

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