Climate Change Fact Sheet

Climate change costs lives. It makes life for people in the poorest regions of the world unbearable. It takes their jobs, their homes, and their food. This year, we are joining the international community in calling for rich countries to sign a fair and safe deal in Copenhagen in December 2009 and save millions of lives already being or about to be affected by climate change.

Why is climate change the priority issue for Oxfam?

Climate change is the number one threat to overcoming poverty. Rich countries produce most of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Yet, it is the poorest countries that will be hit hardest. The impacts of climate change will disproportionately affect the livelihoods, health, and educational opportunities of people living in poverty, as well as their chances of survival. For example:

  • Between 1990 and 1998, 94 per cent of the world’s 568 major natural disasters, and more than 97 per cent of all natural disaster-related deaths, were in developing countries
  • Natural disasters have quadrupled over the last two decades, from an average of 120 a year in the early 1980s to as many as 500 today

Is the Philippines affected by climate change?

The Philippines is one of the world’s most disaster-prone areas, and climate change will increase the number and impact of disasters hitting it. In 2006 alone, the economic impact of disasters has cost the country US$988M in absolute amounts, affecting almost 9 million people or a little more than 10% of its population (CRED Crunch, 2007 as cited in La Viña et al, 2009). Its vulnerability as a country is further exacerbated by its limited and weak adaptive capacity due to chronic conditions of poverty and inequality.

Is climate change really happening?

Oxfam supports the overwhelming scientific evidence showing that changes in the global climate are, in large part, due to human activities and excessive greenhouse-gas emissions. These emissions are – with scientific certainty – creating floods, droughts, hurricanes, sea-level rise, and seasonal unpredictability. The result is failed harvests, disappearing islands, destroyed homes, water scarcity, and deepening health crises, which are undermining millions of peoples’ rights to life, security, food, water, health, and shelter.

Why is 2009 such an important year?

2009 is an all-important year in the fight against climate change. In December 2009 world leaders will get together at the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen to decide how the world tackles climate change and global warming for decades to come. In the words of Oxfam’s Campaigns Director, Thomas Schultz-Jagow, this conference is “the most important meeting mankind has ever had”.

We are looking for two key outcomes from the conference. Firstly, that there is a reduction on rich country carbon emissions. Secondly, an adaptation fund is set up for poor countries, so that they can cope with the effects of climate change. In essence, we are saying that rich countries need to “Stop harming. Start helping”.

Should we wait until the global financial crisis is resolved?

No. The financial crisis is no excuse for low ambition in the face of climate change. The global financial crisis challenges all of us, but this challenge is amplified for the millions who live in poverty. Climate change has the potential to dwarf the scale of the financial crisis if left unabated. Only by meeting climate change head on and tackling the issue jointly with the economic meltdown can we be assured of a real, long-term future. Hand in hand, the two can help each other. Low-carbon technology can generate new jobs and new ways of working can complement the need to tackle climate change through, for example, low-carbon investment. It does mean making tough decisions, but that is part of the deal already in this economic climate. The two must go together.

When did Oxfam start working on climate change?

Oxfam has been working on climate change for over 25 years. In 1983, Oxfam produced “Weather Alert”, a briefing paper that recorded the human impacts of various climate anomalies affecting our programmes across the globe – before the term “climate change” was even in use. In 1992, Oxfam discussed the special threat that climate change posed to people living in poverty, when climate change first became headline news as a result of the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Since then, Oxfam has been monitoring the science and politics of climate change, as well as the extent to which it is impacting on the lives of poor people around the world.





2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. marife gracilla  |  October 4, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Are there statistical tests done in the Philippines to determine significant differences in temperature and rainfall over two time periods?

    • 2. oxfamphilippines  |  October 12, 2009 at 2:20 am

      Hi Marife, According to PAG-ASA, since 1971 the Philippines has experienced an average of .14 degrees centigrade per decade temperature rise–which means there’s been a .61 rise since then.


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