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You are here: Home / Media / Archive / 2000 / pressccdyke


Friends of the Earth Press Release, September 11th, 2000



Dyke-Building Action Planned for Hague Summit

While Governments wriggle and prevaricate, climate disasters are wrecking lives and local economies around the world. Even if agreement is finally reached at the major climate summit in the Hague in November (Conference of the Parties [COP] VI), climate change will become a disastrous reality for millions of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. Freak events compatible with climate change forecasts are being seen even in rich developed countries, particularly in the United States, the country which is most responsible for delaying effective international action totackle the crisis.

"Gathering Storm", a new publication from Friends of the EarthInternational, sets out the latest evidence on dangerous climate change as well as moving eye witness testimony from survivors of Hurricane Mitch, the Mozambique floods and other recent extreme weather events. FOEI has also announced a major action outside the Hague talks on Saturday 18th November. Thousands of protestors will build a Climate Change Dyke.Present will be witnesses of extreme weather events from around the world.

Key evidence of climate change includes:

  • Meltdown of glaciers, and the thinning of Arctic Sea ice by nearly 40% in less than 30 years
  • Average temperature rises of 0.6 degreescentigrade since 1860, with six of the warmest years recorded during the 1990s. 1998 is believed to have been the warmest year of the millennium
  • According to the UN Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global mean surface temperatures could rise by between 1 and 3.5 degrees centigrade by 2100, relative to 1990 levels. Average sea level could rise by between 15 and 95 centimetres.

Robert T Watson, Chairman of the IPCC has observed that "it is no longer a question of whether the earth's climate will change, but rather when, where and by how much". The IPCC also concluded that even "small changes in the mean climate or climate variability can produce relatively large changes in the frequency of extreme events". "Gathering Storm" sets out the evidence of the damage that such extreme weather events will cause.

In February this year, five straight days of unseasonal downpours caused terrible flooding in Mozambique. Eye witness Gina Mamanoela, a Maputo aid worker said:

"The worst thing about this is the impact on children. So many of them were separated from their parents during the floods, and many have lost their parents, but don't understand their loss. Instead they keep asking "when are mama and papa coming home"

In July this year, record high temperatures claimed lives in Greece,Bulgaria, Italy, Southern France and Romania. Lavinia Andrea, a Romanian NGO worker said:

"The rains have failed and the heat wave persists with devastating impact. Survival means successful crops for 35% of the working population of Romania. For them, agriculture is the only source of income. None could afford to insure their crops against failure and that's why, after this drought, their livelihoods have been completelydestroyed. The animals are dying and the people become the poorest of thepoor."

In October 1998, Hurricane Mitch roared through Nicaragua, with wind speeds of up to 290 kilometres an hour. About 10,000 people were killed in floods and mud slides. Josefina Valasquez, a hurricane survivor, writes:

"We found many bodies without heads, and severed limbs scattered. Cries for help could be heard emanating from the mud. People were still trapped where so many trees had fallen and we lacked the rope necessary to haul survivors out of the mud. One woman who was alive when we managed to pull her out of themud died soon after".

The COP VI climate summit is the last chance to rescue the international agreement signed at Kyoto in 1997. But even this agreement will not be sufficient to stop climate change. Developed countries will need to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80 to 90% by 2050 if this is to be achieved.

Friends of the Earth International, the world's largest environmentnetwork with groups in 61 countries, wants Governments at COP VI to:

  • ensure that the Kyoto Protocol results in real and permanent emissions reductions through the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures
  • commit industrialised countries to achieving 80% oftheir Kyoto target through cuts in emissions at home
  • agree the principle of equity for future emissions reductions, based on an equal per capita approach and on the principle of ecological limits.Commenting, FOEI Climate Campaigner Roger Higman said:
  • * Our report sets out the latest shocking evidence on the extent of climate change, and the damage it will do to health, security and the environment. It also contains moving testimony of the human costs of weather disasters. The world's Governments must seize the last chance offered to save the Kyoto agreement in the Hague this November. Otherwise millions of us around the world will pay a terrible price for their failure. We'll be in the Hague throughout thetalks demanding that the planet's politicians finally face up to theirresponsibilities."

FoE Netherlands




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