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Oxfam fact sheet Climate Change APRIL 2010

Right now, global warming is affecting our entire planet—natural resources, wildlife, and people. And it’s the world’s poorest people who are bearing the brunt of the crisis. For communities throughout South Asia and Africa, a changing climate causes major disruptions to agriculture and food supplies, leading to widespread hunger and deepening poverty. Hurricanes, floods, and storms are increasing in severity and putting coastal communities in the US Gulf Coast and Central America at risk. As the crisis grows, conflicts could intensify because of the scarcity of resources, while mass migration and displacement could disrupt global stability and security. For all of these reasons, climate change is about more than saving the planet— it is the ultimate poverty issue of the 21st century. Join Oxfam America’s campaign to create equitable solutions to the climate crisis. As the US begins to tackle global warming, we must not only lower our greenhouse gas emissions, but also help vulnerable communities adapt to the consequences of climate change.

Help communities fight back Vulnerable people in the US and around the world are already experiencing the effects of global warming. Though they are fighting back, they need our help. • Members of Congress are developing a number of legislative proposals on climate change and energy. At key moments in the debate, Oxfam will call on our supporters to make sure that global warming legislation not only curbs our greenhouse gas emissions, but also provides financial assistance that helps poor communities here and around the world cope with the current and future impacts of climate change. • With this support, poor people can design and implement their own climate solutions, such as drought-resistant seeds and food banks in times of shortage, coastal tree barriers and raised homes during floods, and mosquito nets and health surveillance to prevent the spread of climate-related disease. Through this legislation, the US should also help developing countries reduce their own emissions. • Action on climate change will also create significant business opportunities, like new markets in low-carbon energy technologies and other low-carbon goods and services. These markets could grow to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars each year, and employment in these sectors will expand accordingly.

Village committee organizer Nyima Filly Fofana, front, in a cereal bank in her village of Dasilami, Gambia. Built by a local group, these cereal banks give villagers a reserve of food and seeds to fall back on during times of shortage. Rebecca Blackwell / Oxfam America

nchecked, climate change will pose “Uunacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet … We must have financing that helps developing countries adapt, particularly the least developed and most vulnerable to climate change.

President Barack Obama at the UN Climate Change Conference, Denmark

Oxfam America Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice. Together with individuals and local groups in more than 100 countries, Oxfam saves lives, helps people overcome poverty, and fights for social justice. To join our efforts or learn more, go to

The facts: Climate change … requires urgent action. • In the last two decades alone, the total number of natural disasters—mostly floods, cyclones, and storms—quadrupled. Over the same period, the number of people affected by disasters increased from around 174 million to an average of over 250 million a year.

… hurts poor people first and worst. • People in developing countries are more than 20 times as likely to be affected by climate-related disasters as those in the developed world. • In general, scientists expect the US to see overall increases in precipitation, including more intense hurricanes and heavy rainfall. Low-income American families, communities of color, immigrants, and native American communities are often the least able to respond to and recover from these environmental hazards.

… affects women disproportionately. • Women in poor communities and countries are particularly vulnerable: they often depend on rainfall (instead of irrigation) to water their crops; they are typically responsible for providing their household’s water, food, and fuel supply; and they are less likely to have the education, opportunities, and resources they need to adapt to the impacts of climate change. • Women are more likely than men to die in climate-related disasters. For example, when a cyclone and floods hit Bangladesh in 1991, the death rate for women was almost five times higher than for men.

know this problem “Wis eman-made, but the solution is too. I ask you to help my community fight the climate change that destroys our houses, increases diseases, and stops our children from attending schools.

… threatens global security. • According to a report by a panel of retired US generals and admirals, climate change acts as a “threat multiplier for instability” in the most volatile regions of the world. • By 2025, 40 percent of the world’s population will be living in countries experiencing significant water shortages—which in turn could worsen existing tensions over water in conflict-affected regions like the Middle East.

… requires real resources.

• According to the UN Development Program, adaptation needs in developing countries are likely to cost up to $86 billion each year.

Constance Okollet, founder of the Osokura United Women’s Network, Uganda

… demands innovative solutions. • In South Africa, farmers are already planting faster-maturing crops to cope with unpredictable rainfall. • In Bangladesh, villagers are creating floating vegetable gardens to protect their livelihoods from ruin by floods. • In Vietnam, communities are planting dense mangroves along the coast to diffuse the waves caused by tropical storms. • Along the US Gulf Coast, a community organization, the Terrebonne Readiness and Assistance Coalition, is helping Louisiana bayou residents build elevated homes that can withstand hurricane-force winds and rains.

What can you do? Hardest-hit communities have the knowledge and experience to craft their own solutions to climate change. But they need your voice in order to get the support they need. Take action now at

Many people living in high-altitude regions of Peru—like 10-year-old Elisabeth Tamara, pictured—depend on glacial melt from the Andes for their water supply. As ice and snow levels retreat, communities have begun using drip irrigation systems to maximize water efficiency. Gilvan Barreto / Oxfam GB

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APRIL 2010

Climate Change Fact Sheet