Extreme weather events linked to climate change has caused the deaths of 21,000 people worldwide in the first nine months of 2010, according to Oxfam. This is already twice the casualties of 2009. In a new report More than ever: climate talks that work for those that need them most, the organization outlines the casualties of such weather-related disasters, for example devastating floods in Pakistan which killed 2,000 people and affected more than 20 million.
“This year has seen massive suffering and loss due to extreme weather disasters. This is likely to get worse as climate change tightens its grip. The human impacts of climate change in 2010 send a powerful reminder why progress in Cancun is more urgent than ever,” report author Tim Gore said in a press release.
Officials from governments around the world are currently meeting in Cancun at this year’s UN Climate Summit, however expectations are low for reaching an agreement.
Despite rising frustration with the international community’s unwillingness to tackle climate change, Gore defends the UN as the best venue for such action: “[The UN] is the only forum where the world can decide on an effective global response to an unfolding global crisis. The UN process has helped to generate international pressure in the past few years. This has pushed countries to initiate their own domestic policy, set targets they otherwise would not have done, and start to address the adaptation needs of poor and vulnerable communities.”
While a single weather event cannot be solely attributed to climate change, scientists have warned that a warming Earth will increase the number of severe weather occurrences and worsen the severity of such events. This year has produced a litany of severe weather-related events that were surprising in their ferocity: floods across the US, drought in the Amazon, monsoon rains in Southeast Asia, and a record-breaking heatwave in Russia. Given such disasters, both scientists and government officials are becoming less reticent this year in making the connection between severe weather and climate change.
Consumer goods industry announces goal of zero deforestation in Cancun
(11/30/2010) While governments continue to stall on action to cut greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, global corporations are promising big changes to tackle their responsibilities. The Board of Consumer Goods Forum (BCGF) has approved a resolution to achieve net zero deforestation by 2020 in products such as palm oil, soy, beef, and paper. Announced yesterday at the UN Climate Summit in Cancun, the BCGF has stated the goal will be met both by individual actions within companies and collective action, including partnerships with NGOs, development banks, and governments. With such giants as Walmart, Unilever, Carrefour, and General Mills, BCGF is made up of four hundred global consumer goods manufacturers and retailers totaling over $2.8 trillion in revenue.
Earth could see 4 degrees Celsius warming in less than a lifetime
(11/29/2010) By the time children born this year reach 50 years old, the Earth could be 4 degrees Celsius warmer (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) warns a new study as governments meet in Cancun for this year’s UN climate summit, which is not expected to produce an agreement. Last year governments pledged in the non-binding Copenhagen Accord to keep temperatures below a 2 degree Celsius rise, but a new study in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A argues that even with current promises to cut emissions this is unlikely and, in a worst-case scenario, a rise of 4 degrees Celsius is possible by 2060.
Island nations say climate treaty should be completed in 2011
(11/29/2010) The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), making up 42-island and low-lying coastal nations, has told Reuters that a deadline should be set for the UN climate treaty to be completed by 2011. After a disappointing meeting in Copenhagen last year and the low expectations for the up-coming climate change conference in Cancun, the AOSIS says a hard deadline should be set for 2011.