Hurricane Matthew: Friends of the Earth Haiti sends this message to governments at the UN Climate Talks
Port-au-Prince, 7th November 2016
To the world’s political leaders,
Heads of multinational corporations,
All citizens of the planet,
I am taking the opportunity today, 7 November 2016, to pay my respects to political leaders, whatever their level of influence, to heads of large multinational corporations and to every citizen of the planet. I am using this occasion to request their support, at whatever level possible, to address the climate situation our planet is experiencing. It has serious impacts on the lives of the most vulnerable communities, especially those in small island developing states, African and Asian countries, but also around the world.
Over recent years, the world has definitely experienced extreme climate shocks – floods, droughts, tsunamis, hurricanes and disrupted winter weather – as a result of global warming. For example, during October 2016 Haiti was hit by hurricane Matthew and just before COP22 there were floods in the north of Haiti, in particular the town of Cap-Haitien, with disastrous social, economic and environmental impacts on life in the communities affected. The worst thing is that the country had only just started to recover from the devastating effects of the earthquake in January 2010.
Various studies show a close link between climate change and extreme climate events. I have a right to ask to what extent the population of Haiti is responsible for this climate change. I could not and would not want to claim it has no responsibility. But what has been Haiti’s real contribution? All of you will recognise that it has been insignificant, however Haiti is paying a heavy price. Over the past 12 years, Haiti has recorded economic losses of over US$10bn (from the agricultural and infrastructure sectors). How can a country with such a fragile economy achieve development with these losses? There is such a frequent need for emergency response that investment funds for development are redirected towards managing disasters resulting from a situation for which the country has only minimal responsibility. The situation described in Haiti is no different to that in countries hit by typhoons in Asia or by extended droughts in Africa, or in small island states affected by rising sea levels.
What climate injustice! There is a need for compensation.
I am appealing to the conscience of all of you, whatever your level of influence or responsibility, to halt this rise in temperature. We must act, at one level or another, to protect planet Earth from the impact of climate change.
We must use the opportunity of COP22 to secure genuine and effective commitment from everyone. On my own behalf and on behalf of the communities affected, I am asking you to act responsibly to ensure survival of the planet.
I urge you to launch a compensation fund, which must be supported by the countries with greatest responsibility, to help fragile and vulnerable economies to recover from the effects of climate-related disasters.
In addition to this compensation fund, I urge developed countries, according to their level of responsibility or on a voluntary but not humanitarian basis, to support the Green Climate Fund to develop workable, environmentally sustainable initiatives which can genuinely and effectively reduce emissions, at the same time allowing us to achieve the targets under the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for each country.
Together we can change the climate situation. Through COP22, let us really prove what we are capable of and show greater responsibility.
I believe in it. I am actively involved. What about you?
Haiti Survie (Friends of the Earth Haiti)
Tel: + 509 29 40 24 40 / + 509 29 40 24 41
Main image: Scene from Les Cayes, Haiti, in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, 6 October 2016 © UN Photo/Logan Abassi