Impacts of Climate Change and Oxfam Projects
Oxfam Work Report: Climate Change China:
Working with people against poverty www.oxfam.org.hk |
More than 90 per cent of poor people in China are at risk from a changing climate.
Our work: • Launching an “I Do” campaign to promote awareness of climate change and climate poverty.
Climate change is more than an environmental issue; it already threatens the lives and livelihoods of poor communities. For Hong Kong people, the biggest concern may be that winter will disappear in 50 years. In fact, each year, more than 200 million people worldwide are affected by the impacts of climate change-related disasters, of which more than 90 per cent live in poor countries. For example, extreme and abnormal weather conditions have forced farmers in Mainland China to leave their homes, have led to crop failures in the Philippines, and have contaminated wells in Bangladesh with salt water, forcing women and children to walk several kilometres every day to fetch water. Meanwhile, drought has been impacting many countries in Africa for years. We at Oxfam believe that if we are to eliminate poverty, we must address the impacts of climate change on poor people. From 2003 to 2009, we supported dozens of projects on climate change. We also advocated and lobbied the negotiators at United Nations’ climate talks to come up with a fair deal to effectively mitigate the impacts of climate change and help countries and communities adapt to the changing environment. In Hong Kong, we have asked the Hong Kong government to set clear targets and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to help impoverished countries and communities adapt to climate impacts and mitigate threats. This work report summarises Oxfam Hong Kong’s work on climate change over the years. For more details, please visit our online special feature at: www.oxfam.org.hk/en/climatechange.aspx
According to a report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), poor countries are hardest hit by global warming, leading to famine in many countries in Africa and Asia. In Asia alone, climate change puts 130 million people at risk of hunger. Oxfam is committed to assisting the affected communities to combat and adapt to climate change.
China Nepal: Farmers in Nepal rely mainly upon rice cultivation for their livelihoods. However, the rainy season is more and more difficult to predict – in recent years the July planting season is often dry, leading to crop failures. Extreme weather has also brought more frequent floods.
Hong Kong’s average temperature has increased 1.2˚C in the past century, demonstrating an upward trend that is double the global average (0.6 ˚C), according to the Hong Kong Observatory. The rise in temperature means heath risks to outdoor workers and elderly people living alone in small accommodations. • Promoting awareness of climate change and poverty through public education and advocacy and urging the government to formulate adaptation measures. For example, Oxfam’s Interactive Education Centre organises workshops for students to explore issues related to climate change. We also conduct training workshops for teachers.
Nepal Bangladesh India
Hong Kong Myanmar Laos Vietnam Thailand Philippines Cambodia
• Supporting disaster preparedness and mitigation programmes in disaster-prone areas to help poor communities cope with disasters.
Philippines: Weather has become extremely abnormal in recent years; typhoons have become more frequent and devastating.
• Supporting and cooperating with local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working on climate change.
In the next 20 to 50 years, flooding and drought will be more frequent; rising temperatures will accelerate the melting of Himalayan glaciers, triggering serious floods.
• Working with farmers towards a more sustainable and diverse type of agriculture, in an effort to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
• Carrying out livelihood projects combined with community-based disaster preparedness measures in Bihar, including assisting community members to set up self-help groups and grain banks to store food before seasonal floods occur; repairing hand pumps, establishing community-based resource centres, introducing flood-friendly agricultural activities, and teaching villagers to make low-cost life jackets out of recycled plastic bottles. These projects benefited 29,000 people. Women in Bihar set up grain banks to store food as a precaution against disasters.
Bangladesh: Over the past 20 years, the temperatures in May and November have risen by 1˚C and 0.5˚C respectively. Global warming has led to abnormal rainfall patterns, early monsoons and floods destroying crops.
by Hong Kong artist Lau Gukzik and Gansu child Zhang Zhirong, was displayed at an exhibition at the 2008 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland. They reflect the fact that while some people enjoy prosperity and affluence, others pay a heavy price for it.
• Supporting ecologically sensitive poverty alleviation projects with a focus in northwest China, teaching local farmers to grow drought-resistant crops and promoting the use of solar power to reduce the use of charcoal or firewood.
This pair of paintings, “Hot City and Dry Field,”
(in the Asia-Pacific region)
Our work: • Supporting the construction of floating gardens so farmers can continue cultivation during the six months of the year prone to flooding. • Introducing new crops such as tomatoes, herbs and vegetables, as well as rice with a shorter growing season. • Strengthening community ability to cope with disasters, including setting up a weather forecast system, building up embankments and fortifying homesteads.
80 per cent of poor people in Indonesia rely on agriculture for a living. Extreme weather leads to flooding and droughts that adversely affect their livelihoods and safety.
The Mekong (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand): Over the past century, average temperatures in these five countries have increased by 0.3 ˚C to 0.8˚C, and changes in rainfall patterns have seriously affected rice cultivation in the Mekong River Basin. Erratic weather, floods, droughts and typhoons have become more frequent, greatly affecting the livelihoods of farmers and fishermen.
Our work: • Assisting farmers in Cambodia and Vietnam to adapt to climate change, and providing training to increase community members’ capacity to prepare for and cope with disasters. Oxfam works with local partners to develop an early warning system, so that community members in Vietnam can respond quickly to typhoons and floods.
• Providing weather information for small fisheries in five areas (Sumatra and Sulawesi Island, West Java, East Java and Jakarta) during the monsoon season. • Conducting a series of studies on climate change adaptation and its impact on vulnerable groups, such as fishermen and farmers.
Timor-Leste: In 2010, climatic fluctuations were particularly notable. Under the influence of a La Nina weather pattern and other factors, rain persisted through much of what is usually the dry season, with flooding occurring in several districts at a time of year when rain is not usually expected. Fluctuating and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns caused by climate change will further undermine attempts by marginal farmers to improve their livelihoods.
Our work: • Supporting work on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Advocacy work and research is also included. • Supporting local partners on climate change training.
Highlights in Hong Kong Public Education
Many Hong Kong people see climate change as only an environmental issue. Oxfam Hong Kong aimed to raise public awareness of how climate change is affecting poor people, through public education.
Over the years, Oxfam Hong Kong has called on the government of Hong Kong to create a comprehensive pro-poor climate change policy to assist poor and vulnerable groups to adapt to climate change.
2009 • Launched the Combat Climate Change Coalition (CCCC) with 29 non-governmental organisations to urge the government to adopt climate-proof policies that include ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and support local people living in poverty who are most vulnerable to the effects of abnormal weather.
• Released the Chinese version of “Up in Smoke? Asia and the Pacific”. This report presents the evidence showing the influence of climate change on the weather and natural resources in the Asia-Pacific region. • Arranged for two groups of youth to visit San Miguel, an island in the Philippines affected by climate change. Back in Hong Kong, they called on the public to join the campaign and created interactive installation exhibitions called “Who Killed the Fair Climate?”
Hong Kong youth in San Miguel learn how climate change is affecting the fishing village.
• Performed twice with the Complaints Choir of Hong Kong, once in front of the Legislative Council, singing with legislators Audrey Yuet-mee Eu and Gary Hak-kan Chan to oppose climate change.
• Released “Suffering the Science – Climate Change, People and Poverty”, a research paper with recent statistics and case studies, showing that people in developing countries are facing a multitude of problems: a shortage of food and water, frequent disasters and forced relocations, smaller harvests, the spread of infectious diseases, poor health and inadequate livelihoods for outdoor workers.
• Conducted a survey that showed the citizens of Hong Kong are well aware of the negative impacts of climate change on vulnerable groups, signifying their recognition that climate change is a social issue. The poll also reflected citizens' desire for the Hong Kong government to do more to help these groups to adapt to climate change impacts and to have a clearer strategy to address the issue.
• On 5 June, Oxfam placed two icemen in Central, conveying the message: "Your Emissions Kill". They declared that Hong Kong people have both a moral responsibility and the capability to reduce the impacts of climate change; and that the Hong Kong SAR government must enact a holistic climate policy and assist vulnerable people to adapt to the negative impacts of climate change. • Singer-songwriter Paul Wong, ambassador of Oxfam’s “Less CO2 Less Poverty” campaign, visited a village in northeastern Bangladesh badly affected by climate change, and Oxfam’s adaptation projects there. Paul offered one of his songs to the campaign and created the first card on the campaign website, with the message "Waste less – cut waste and consumption; stop climate change and global warming, for a better world for all". These young Oxfam advocates spell out the Chinese character for ‘less’ – Less CO2, Less Poverty.
Influencing International Climate Change Negotiations
In addition to poverty alleviation projects, Oxfam is committed to promoting awareness of climate risks in China through public education, research, and various advocacy initiatives.
To resolve the climate change crisis, we need a global solution and collective effort. For several years Oxfam has lobbied negotiators at U.N. climate talks to come up with a fair deal that will effectively mitigate the impacts of climate change and help countries and communities adapt to the changing environment. We have:
2009 • Released ‘Climate Change and Poverty: The Case of China’ with Greenpeace China. The report outlined how climate change has become a major cause of poverty in China.
2008 • Launched a campaign to “Stop Poverty! Stop Climate Change!”; produced a 30-second video, “Climate Crisis”, which was shown in cinemas and on various websites, and held several screenings of “Sisters on the Planet”, an Oxfam International documentary on what four women from various parts of the world are doing to fight climate change.
Highlights in Mainland China
• In September, Oxfam presented Environment Secretary Edward Yau with a “Consultation Document” on climate change ahead of the Legislative Council’s special meeting on the government’s public consultation on climate change strategies and actions. We called for a holistic climate-proof policy for Hong Kong.
From left: LegCo member Audrey Eu, Ethiopian farmer Sefya, Hong Kong construction worker Wong Wai Man, LegCo member Gary Chan and Oxfam representative Stanley So, ringing the climate alarm in an ensemble.
• Launched the “I Do Action” advocacy campaign. Within six months, we had reached an audience of 30 million through various advertising channels and pamphlet distributions on campuses, and attracted over 10,000 participants to events including a themed music festival and interactive discussion forums. We also collected public opinions on climate change and poverty through an internet platform and selected the Oxfam I Do Ambassadors, who joined a media tour to Oxfam’s programme sites in Gansu province. • Launched the "Stand up, I do" event in Beijing on 17 October, International Poverty Reduction Day, calling on the public to help poor people fight against climate change.
On 23 July, 2009, Oxfam kicked off the “I Do” campaign in Beijing. E mbassies f rom diff erent countries, media and NGO representatives participated in the event.
At the U.N. conference in Bali, 15 Oxfam International polar bear campaigners shouted “Save Humans Too!”
Volunteers formed a "human clock" to call on the public to take action to combat climate change.
Representing the Chinese youth, "I Do" ambassador Xiao Xin urged U.S. President Obama to take action to assist poor people to combat climate change.
• Worked with other Oxfam affiliates to fight for a pro-poor climate deal in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009. Xiao Xin (second from left), Oxfam Hong Kong's "I Do" envoy, shares her stories of the impacts of climate change in China.
• In October, Oxfam urged world leaders attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC) in Tianjin, China to establish a new climate fund for developing countries.
• Joined an Oxfam International delegation to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland in December 2008, calling on rich countries to be accountable for the climate crisis and pledge to reduce emissions by 25 to 40 per cent by 2020 while providing resources to developing countries. Oxfam Hong Kong representative Stanley So (far right) at the United Nations Climate Conference in Poznan, Poland, in December 2008.
• Launched an advocacy campaign at the Great Wall on the eve of U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to China in November, calling on rich countries to act immediately to fight against climate change.
• Supported the Chinese People's University to hold a post-Copenhagen conference on the role and influence of governments, media and NGOs in managing climate change. More than 50 representatives from the United Nations, embassies of different countries, the Chinese government, Chinese and foreign media, international and local NGOs attended the conference.
• Called on governments to stop greenhouse gas emissions and to start helping developing countries cope with the impacts of the climate crisis at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia in December 2007.
Participants in the symposium included Su Wei (front row, second from right), China's chief negotiator on climate change, and Maria Felizco (front row, right), consultant to the delegation of the Philippines on climate change negotiations and Oxfam Hong Kong’s Policy and Campaign director.
• In November, before the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico, Oxfam arranged a meeting between non-governmental organisations in Mainland China and Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of China’s National Development and Reform Commission and head of the Chinese delegation to the convention, to promote setting up the climate fund and call on the Chinese government to strengthen its work on climate change adaptation to ensure that poor people in China can cope with the impacts of climate change.
• Continued to drive rich countries to reduce emissions and to set up a fair Climate Fund at the Cancun climate talks in Mexico; meanwhile, we also held a conference with Chinese People’s University, and representatives from China, India, South Africa, Brazil and Mexico attended the conference to look for ways to help poor people cope with climate change.
The Work is Not Yet Finished Under globalisation, both rich and poor countries are affected by climate change, but the poorest and most vulnerable people bear most of the impact as they lack the resources to withstand climate change. Therefore, we must cut down unnecessary consumption and reduce carbon emissions and support developing countries, and must assume responsibility and take decisive action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Through these actions, we can help poor people in Hong Kong as well as in other developing countries cope with climate change.