By Meabh Smith, reporting from the Philippines. All photos by Peter O'Doherty.
It’s 12 months since Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever storm to make landfall, struck the Philippines. Thousands died and the damage was catastrophic.
People in Ireland donated over €3 million towards our emergency appeal to support survivors.
Trócaire has been supporting brave Filipino people to rebuild their lives, as part of the global Caritas network, funding new homes, debris clearance, water, sanitation and psychosocial care.
Thank you so much to all who supported our appeal. Here are some of the people you have helped...
Apolonio Orbia (above) from San Antonio on Cebu Island was found sitting on the side of a hill after his home and all he had was blown away. Sr. Anne Healy, an Irish nun from the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary missionary order, received funding from Trócaire to build new homes for Apolonio and his community.
“This house is better than the one we had before the typhoon. Now, we are alert all the time and keep safe. We have a cell phone and track the news and radio to hear if there is a storm coming.”
Single mother, Mildred Taboso, holds a picture of her two children who were killed in the typhoon. She said: “The work of Trócaire and CRS [Trócaire partner] has really helped, to have this house and not have to build it myself. When the typhoon came we stayed here because we didn’t know that there would be a flood. The water was over 15 feet. We left after the second wave came. My two children were taken by the water within an hour. I miss them sleeping in my arms.”
"Climate change threatens to undo all the gains that have been made against poverty", according to Trócaire's new in-depth report ‘Feeling the Heat: How climate change is driving extreme weather in the developing world'.
The report published today (Wednesday, 5 November) analyses of the impact of climate change on the developing world and calls for the Irish government to introduce binding targets to reduce Ireland’s carbon footprint.
It was officially launched today by Alan Kelly, Minister for the Environment and Local Government.
Speaking at the launch, Trócaire Executive Director Éamonn Meehan said:
“People in Ireland emit an average of 8.8 metric tonnes of carbon each year compared to just 0.1 metric tonne for Ethiopians. Each Irish person is responsible for as much carbon emissions as 88 Ethiopians, meaning that it would take 404 million Ethiopians – over four times the population of the country – to match Ireland’s carbon footprint.
“Ireland is significantly off-track for meeting our 2020 emission reduction targets. Given that we are the eighth highest carbon emitter per capita in Europe, and the 35th highest globally, we need to step-up to the plate. We need a binding roadmap to guide Ireland towards a fossil-free economy and we need investment in sustainable lifestyles that give people the options they need to reduce their carbon footprint.”
‘Feeling the Heat’ analyses the impact of climate change in five developing countries: the Philippines, Ethiopia, Malawi, Honduras and Kenya. The report is released on the week that marks the first anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, which resulted in over 6,000 deaths in the Philippines last November.
Amongst the report’s findings for the Philippines are:
- At least 75 million people in the Philippines are at direct risk from the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels, storms and damage to agriculture.
- Temperatures in the Philippines have risen by 0.64 degree Celsius since 1951.
- There has been a significant increase in weather extremes, with regular drought during dry spells and floods during wet seasons.
- Without urgent remedial action temperatures in the Philippines will rise by 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, with even the ‘best case scenario’ predicting a 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature by the end of 2100.
- A 4 degree Celsius rise in temperature will significantly increase both the intensity and frequency of storms in the Philippines, putting millions of people at risk.
- Impacts on agriculture will cost the Philippines 2.2 per cent of GDP annually by 2100.
- The report concludes that climate change in the Philippines is set to result in “more malnutrition, higher poverty levels and possibly heightened social unrest and conflict in certain areas in the country due to loss of land.”
Amongst the report’s other findings are:
- 90% of the population of Malawi are at risk of hunger due to drought. Rainfall in Malawi could fall by as much as 25 per cent by the end of the century.
- Floods and storms have increased in frequency in Honduras, with 65 extreme weather events recorded in the last 20 years at a cost of $4.7bn.
- Yields from food crops in Honduras will drop by up to 10 per cent by 2020 due to increased drought.
- Rainfall in Kenya has reduced significantly over the last 30 years and temperatures are set to rise by up to 4.5 degrees Celsius by 2100.
- Net economic costs of climate change could be equivalent to a loss of almost 3 per cent of GDP each year by 2030 in Kenya.
- Agricultural output in Ethiopia could fall by as much as 10 per cent as a result of climate change.
- The growing season in Ethiopia has already reduced by 15 per cent as a result of drought.
Commenting on the report’s findings, Éamonn Meehan said: “This report brings home the reality of the impacts of climate change on people’s lives. Climate change is not just a scientific concept or a threat for the future, it is very real and it is affecting people today.
“The most recent IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report has warned that climate change will increase poverty and hunger over the coming decades. What our research shows is that this is already happening to a frightening degree. The poorest and most vulnerable people in the world are on the front lines and are seeing their ability to grow food and earn an income diminish by the day.
“Climate change threatens to undo all the gains that have been made against poverty over recent decades. It is the single biggest threat to humanity but yet the political system has refused to move quickly enough to address it.”
Read the full report: ‘Feeling the Heat: How climate change is driving extreme weather in the developing world'
- To increase your knowledge of climate change;
- To help you understand why climate change is an urgent social justice issue, what we call ‘climate justice’;
- To assist you in making connections with experienced activists and hear stories from around the world;
- To give you the knowledge and skills to become a climate justice activist.
by Eithne McNulty, Trócaire's Director in Northern Ireland
Humans, along with every other species, depend totally on the proper functioning of the planet for the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. A small change to nature’s system can have the effect of knocking the entire basis of life on earth out of synch.
Tragically, we are seeing one such change. It is called climate change and it cannot be described as small.
Fact: the earth’s average temperature is higher today than it was before mass industrialisation. Fact: each of the last three decades have been successively warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.
The scientific evidence is unequivocal: not only is our climate changing, it is changing as a direct result of carbon emissions from human activity. If emissions continue as they are, experts warn that by 2100 average global temperatures will be between 3.7-4.8°C higher than today.
Such a rise would have a profound impact on sea levels, rainfall patterns and the frequency of extreme weather events. These, in turn, would similarly have a profound impact on our ability to live. Crop yields across much of Africa are predicted to fall, including by up to 50 per cent by 2020 in some countries, as a direct consequence of climate change. Even optimistic predictions forecast that there could be an additional 86 million malnourished children in the world by 2050.
We do not have to look to the future to see the devastation of climate change, of course. Today, one in twelve people across the world is at risk of hunger. Through my work with Trócaire I have seen how drought, storms and floods are plunging people already on the edge into further poverty.
The reality is simple: climate change is no longer a stand-alone issue, it is the entire context in which the world exists.
When world leaders met in New York yesterday (Sept 23rd) at the UN Climate Summit, the urgency for genuine action has never been greater. The decisions we take this week and over the coming years will have huge implications on a wide range of issues, from food production to mass migration, for decades to come.
Despite dire predictions from experts who warn that we are running out of time to avoid a future of mass displacement and growing hunger, political leaders have until now chosen to ignore long-term issues in favour of short-term gains.
Collectively, the world has chosen to ignore a catastrophe that is heading straight towards us.
We have recently seen the impact of conflict in many countries around the world – Syria, Iraq and others. These conflicts have been driven by factors that are not linked to the changing environment. However, the UN has warned that the depletion of renewable natural resources, combined with environmental degradation and climate change, poses fundamental threats to human security. Disputes and grievances over natural resources can be a major contributing factor to violent conflict when they overlap with high levels of inequality, poverty, injustice and poor governance.
One of the greatest injustices in today’s world is that those who have done least to contribute to the planet’s changing climate are the very people who are suffering most from its effects.
The average person in Northern Ireland is responsible for emitting 8.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year – 83 times the amount of the average Ethiopian. All industrialised countries need to cut carbon emissions as a matter of urgency.
We need changes to our economy and government policies. Each of us has a role to play, be it in our homes, our schools or our businesses.
Justine Greening, the UK Secretary of State for International Development, and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, attended the UN Summit on Climate Change. They should be willing to seize the opportunity to become climate champions and push political decision-makers and the international community to agree fair and binding global targets to reduce emissions and support developing countries dealing with climate change. Closer to home, paramount to effecting change will be whether or not the Assembly has the courage to introduce a Northern Ireland Climate Change Act with a legally binding regional target to reduce carbon emissions from 1990 levels by at least 40% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.
This New York meeting will set the tone for the work that needs to be achieved in the coming months in advance of the new global climate deal which is expected to be agreed at talks in Paris next year. In the run up to this Summit people have taken to the streets in New York, in Belfast, in Dublin and around the world in the biggest ever mobilisation on climate change, and they are calling for responsible leadership: it is now up to our leaders to step up to the plate.
We need to respond to climate change before it’s too late. If we do not then what kind of legacy will we be leaving future generations?
Trócaire’s Lorna Gold reports from New York, where 310,000 people took to the streets ahead of Tuesday’s UN Climate Summit.
The 21st September was no ordinary day. I would even go so far as saying that it was one of the most extraordinary days in modern times. It was the day that the whole world woke up to global warming and the people said with one voice: we care, we want change, we want climate justice.
For sure there have been big marches before – but nothing on this scale. From Australia to Sri Lanka, from Jakarta to Nairobi, from Dublin to New York – people joined together in nearly 3000 coordinated events to say to world leaders that we demand action. On Tuesday, as the leaders gather at the UN they will have the eyes of the world on them as never before.
Never before has the full power of social media been harnessed to collectively organise diverse groups across the globe and to send one message to world leaders as one voice. It was a coming together of online and offline activism like never before.
I had the privilege of being at the New York march, which was carried off in true New Yorker style. Everyone was there: local neighbourhood groups, young families with babies, dancing polar bears, healthcare workers, rabbis, bishops, elderly people in wheelchairs, people dressed as mermaids, and thousands upon thousands of young people. The organisers estimated that 50,000 students joined the march – stretching for ten full blocks of the city. In total, around 310,000 people marched through New York.
The atmosphere was carnival like. Music, drums, dancing – reclaiming the streets of Manhattan for the people, at least for one day. The atmosphere was electric. There was a feeling of emotional release: finally, our voice is being heard. At one spine tingling point the entire 310,000 raised their hands in silence to think of those affected by climate change. You could have heard a pin drop. Then, from the back of the march, some four kilometres away, a Mexican wave roared all the way down to the front.
The slogans on the thousands of hand painted banners said it all for me: “There is no planet B” “Keep the coal in the hole” “planets do not grown on trees” “Explain to future generations – ‘it was good for the economy’”. Meantime people chanted “this is what democracy looks like” “what do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now.”
Far from being an environmental lobby issue, this was about ordinary people and their lives. People came to the march for many reasons. For many it is about the future their children will inherit. The number of grandparents and young families bearing the heat and humidity to be there was striking. For some it was about their own homes which are at risk of flooding. For others it was about a moral purpose – saving the world.
People want radical change. No matter why they came, they can see the injustice of climate change around them. They came because they want the government to listen to the people and not to be beholden to the oil industry or other corporate forces. A common theme through the march was divestment from fossils fuels and other destructive industries such as fracking.
One of the best slogans at the march showed the World Wildlife Fund panda shouting “Save the Humans.” This summed up the change for me. People have finally realised that climate change is not just about polar bears. It is far more important than that. It is about our planet, our future as a species. It is about people and justice.
I left the march today with my heart full of hope. Change is most definitely in the air. The tipping point is near. The people have spoken up. World leaders now need to listen and make the change that is needed. They need to commit to divesting from fossil fuels, and commit to binding emissions targets. They need to put money on the table to help the poorest countries adapt.
One thing is absolutely certain – this mass movement is not going to stay quiet. It has taken some time, but like generations before them that ended apartheid and slavery, the people have finally found their voice. It will only get louder.
September 21 is set to be the largest public mobilisation in history against climate change. Trócaire’s Emmet Sheerin writes about the reason for this, and calls on people here in Ireland to take part in the worldwide event.
On September 21, in towns, villages and cities across the world, people will be gathering to show that they care about climate change – that they demand a fair and adequate response to this global problem.
The international day of action is being held just 48 hours before world leaders, including our own Taoiseach Enda Kenny, meet in New York for a summit on climate change. The summit is being hosted by the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and will be one of the most high-profile, global moments focused on climate change in years. It is hoped that the summit can generate the much needed political will and momentum towards agreeing a universal binding agreement on climate change in 2015.
In reality, however, without significant public pressure, it is highly unlikely that world leaders will take the necessary measures to adequately tackle climate change. The international day of action is therefore an opportunity to put pressure on world leaders to step up to the mark. It is a chance for Irish people to send a strong message to the Taoiseach demanding action on climate change, not simply words.
As part of the run up to the event, Trócaire went along to Electric Picnic, armed with a few trad musicians and a giant heart. We asked people to write on the giant heart the thing they love and want to protect against climate change. Take a look at the video below to see what people care about.
Make your voice heard and join us for the People’s Climate Picnic, Sunday September 21
Dublin: The Bandstand, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, 12-2pm
Belfast: The lawn outside the Whitla Hall at Queen's University Belfast, 1pm-3pm
Now is the time for us all to act on climate change for the love of everything we hold dear!
- Find out more about volunteering with Trócaire
- Download our activist toolkit for tips on campaigning on global justice issues this Lent
- Demand a strong climate law for Ireland
Read more about Trócaire's water projects in Ethiopia
- How water wells defeat hunger in Ethiopia
- From Cork to Bullee Dheela: How your donations make a difference
There are lots of easy changes we can all make in our daily lives to make them more sustainable and play a part in combating climate change.
Meet Lydia McCarthy, Education Officer, Trócaire.
“Why does the fruit and veg that we buy in the shops need to be wrapped in plastic? When I do my weekly food shop, I always reach for the fruit and vegetables that are loose and not wrapped in plastic. And, when I get home and cook the veg, all of the peelings go into my compost bin at the bottom of my garden. Is it worth it? Well I have only put a bin out for the rubbish lorry to collect once in the last five months. Better for the environment and better for the pocket! And I’ll also have compost to spread on my vegetable beds in the back garden.
I love my coffee! I am on the road a lot with my job and make frequent stops in petrol stations for a cuppa. I have my reusable cup and always put my coffee in this. I also know which petrol stations on the motorways sell fair trade coffee and will only buy from these. I have a reusable bottle for the road too so that I am not buying bottled water. Again it’s better for the environment and better for the pocket!”
Visit our Up to Us page for tips on the changes you can make in your day-to-day life to live more sustainably and play a part in combating climate change.
Captions (l to r): Reusable water bottle. Lydia McCarthy, Education Officer, Trócaire.
Student Tom Smith tells us about a committed new movement for a totally sustainable lifestyle in Galway.
“About seven months ago I finally made the move from a fairly conventional life as a city-based student, to helping some friends set up a sustainable, permaculture-based small-holding in rural Galway called An Teach Saor (The Free House).
For now I live with two friends, though this number will probably rise soon, including Mark Boyle, better known as the ‘Moneyless Man’, who lived without money for a couple of years to highlight the disconnect our financial system creates between us and the things we buy.
So far we've planted close to 1000 trees, established the start of a forest garden and a herb bed, reclaimed two polytunnels from their former overgrown state, set up natural beehives and planted a nut orchard. We've also done other things like setting up mushroom logs for producing oyster and shiitake mushrooms, constructed a rainwater catchment system, and made a wormery out of an old bathtub.”
Captions (l to r): Galway student, Tom Smith. Reclaimed polytunnel, and its former overgrown state.
“One of the more symbolically important things we've done is to replace our flush toilets with compost toilets, which stops the madness of purifying and chlorinating water just to flush it away, and instead allows us to close the nutrient loop on our own site. Sawdust from a local sawmill prevents there being any smells! Sustainable cultures have been doing this for millennia, and there's no reason why we can't follow suit.
Most of all though, we're creating a life which is our own, utterly fulfilling, fun and surrounded by friends and loved ones. We're now launching a crowdfunding campaign to convert an old pig shed into an eco-learning centre, free community space, home-brew pub and accommodation centre called 'The Happy Pig'.”
While Tom’s commitment to sustainable living is above and beyond what the vast majority of us might contemplate, there are still lots and lots of easy changes we can all make in your daily lives to make them that bit more sustainable.
Visit our Up to Us page for tips on the changes you can make in your day-to-day life.
- Find out about Trócaire’s Up to Us campaign which gives advice and tips on living more sustainably and contributing to environmental wellbeing.
- Find out more about Trócaire's development education work.