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Climate change already happening - world must heed new IPCC climate warnings says Christian Aid

23 September 2013 - Christian Aid is urging governments to heed the warnings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which publishes its new report on the state of the world’s climate on Friday 27 September.

The report, only the fifth since the body was formed in 1988 and the first since 2007, is expected to say that scientists are now 95% certain that human activity is driving climate change, up from 90% six years ago.

Sorley McCaughey, Head of Advocacy and Policy at Christian Aid Ireland, warns that  people in developing countries are already facing the grim reality of a changing climate.

‘Christian Aid is extremely concerned about the findings of the IPCC. Our partner organisations, who work with poor communities living in already difficult conditions across Africa, Asia and Latin America, say millions of vulnerable people are already feeling the impacts of a changing climate and preparing for more extreme and unpredictable weather. 

‘This report demonstrates the urgent action needed to stop climate change in its tracks by committing to rapidly reducing global carbon emissions. There is still time to prevent the worst effects, but our window of opportunity is closing rapidly and it’s the world’s poorest people who will suffer the most from our inaction.’

Reality of climate change

One such person on the front line of climate change is Bolivian farmer Alivio Aruquipa who lives in La Granja, near La Paz.

‘Climate change is a reality here,’ he said. ‘We can see the impacts everywhere. There are new insects on our crops because of higher temperatures here. We can’t produce now without spraying the crops.

‘We are the ones who feel the impact of climate change, we’re the ones who are suffering.  Before it wasn’t like this, before climate change we didn’t have to fumigate and we had a good harvest, people could feed their families and they were well nourished.

‘These last three years we have suffered a lot with the lack of water. People feel that they have to leave the country, or leave their homes to look for work and find a way of feeding their families.

'There are conflicts over water between the different communities because we all need water and there isn’t enough for everyone.’

Unpredictable rainfall

Likewise in Malawi, unpredictable rainfall has caused havoc for farmers who rely on their crops to feed their families. Nkhuleme Ntambalika who lives in the  Balaka District in Malawi said rainfall patterns are increasingly erratic.

He said: ‘We used to have very stable rainfall that was adequate and non-erosive. These days no one knows when to plant crops. When rains come, they are either too little for planting or too heavy, such that fields get waterlogged or eroded. A prolonged dry spell follows and scorches the germinated crops. The seed is lost.’

Mr McCaughey said that in order to prevent more people suffering from similar climate chaos the world needs to agree a plan to reduce global emissions, with the industrialised countries taking the lead.

‘What makes climate change such an injustice is that small-scale farmers in developing countries like Bolivia and Malawi haven’t done anything to contribute to global warming and yet they are the ones suffering,’ he said.

‘UN governments have committed to prevent dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this it is vital that governments heed the warning of the scientists on the IPCC and reduce carbon emissions. The time for talk is over, we need action, and quickly.’ 



If you would like further information or an interview please contact Sorley McCaughey in Dublin on +353 (0)87 062 0062, or Adrian Horsman in Belfast on +44 (0)7710 764 093.  

Notes to editors:

  1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

  2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended:  this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit christianaid.ie