Long-term development

  • We work with communities to tackle the causes of poverty through a combination of hands-on expertise, financial investment and education. In addition, we give people a voice to speak out against the laws, actions and policies that keep them in poverty.

3 reasons why we need to take action for climate justice

Companies continue to pollute. Politicians keep talking, doubting and procrastinating. But the climate does not wait. The climate crisis rages on tirelessly. The time for talk is over: it's high time for climate action! 3 reasons why we (must) take action now for a fair approach to the climate crisis.

1. The effects of climate change are already being felt, especially for the most vulnerable

The climate is changing rapidly. And it is becoming increasingly clear that we humans are the cause of this. Because we have started to emit more and more greenhouse gases, the heat from the sun is retained. As a result, floods, storms and droughts increase in intensity. 


We are feeling the dangers of the climate crisis worldwide. In vulnerable countries in Asia, Africa and South America, people have been experiencing the devastating effects of climate change for years. Harvests fail due to extreme drought, while forest fires or large floods drive people out of their homes. Millions of people are threatened in their very existence, even though they have contributed the least to the climate crisis. They don't have the money to protect themselves against extreme weather and crop failures. Climate change thus perpetuates poverty and inequality.

'Sometimes our cattle die from lack of rain'


Major droughts, alternating with periods of extreme rainfall, ravage the Zimbabwean countryside. Crops fail, for farmers like Sarah (55) it is becoming increasingly difficult to live off the land. “The weather pattern has changed in the last 25 years. That affects our harvest, because if the rain doesn't come as expected, our crops grow poorly. What we eat at home comes from the land. So if the rain doesn't come, it will have a big impact on our lives. Sometimes our cattle even die for lack of rain.'

2. Those responsible are doing far too little to tackle the climate crisis fairly

The good news: people worldwide are doing their best to do their part in the fight against climate change. But while many of us consciously separate waste, fly less and opt for a day without meat, politicians do not dare to make real choices. Polluting companies continue to put profit before people. Financial institutions continue to invest in the fossil fuel industry . And the promised support from rich countries to poorer countries to arm themselves against the consequences of climate change is seriously lacking .

Meanwhile, people in the most vulnerable countries are already paying the price. That is unjust. The lives of millions of people, and the future of all of us, are at stake.

"It's time we saw the money. It's time, it's time, it's time.'


24 years old, and watching victims of a devastating storm being evacuated by the police. Vanessa Nakate lived through it. The speech that the Ugandan climate activist gave during an international youth climate meeting in September was emotional and impressive . She emphasized the major impact of the climate crisis on Africa, which "ironically has the lowest CO2 emissions of any continent except Antarctica."


“We have been promised money for 2020, and we are still waiting. No more empty conferences. It's time to show us the money. It's time, it's time, it's time.'

3. COP26: Now is the time for world leaders to act


High time for politicians and big polluters to take an example from courageous people like Vanessa and Sarah. World leaders meeting in Glasgow now for COP26, this is perfect time to turn empty promises and empty words into powerful climate action. Show courage now and tackle the climate crisis honestly: that is climate justice!


As far as we're concerned, an honest approach looks like this:

  • Give vulnerable countries the promised financial support to arm themselves against climate change; 
  • Raise the climate ambitions to ensure that the earth does not warm by more than 1.5 degrees , so that we can bear the consequences together; 
  • Limit the CO2 emissions of companies and accelerate the transition to sustainable energy.

Finding climate solutions to farming in dry times

Inoussa Sawodogo checks his fruit trees for insects on his farm in central Burkina Faso, an area affected by dry weather due to climate change. Samuel Turpin/Oxfam


In Burkina Faso, a farmer turns to compost and fruit trees to diversify his crops and earn better income as rainfall becomes more and more scarce.

Inoussa Sawodogo spreads compost in his field in Burkina Faso. He produces his own organic fertilizer to make the soil more productive, but lack of rain (one of the effects of climate change in the Sahel region) makes it hard to grow enough cereal crops in this arid region.

“My harvests are growing ever poorer,” he says, adding that reduced yield from cereal crops is “not enough to feed my family for the whole year. I have to buy more food to make up the shortfall.”

He’s found a solution thanks to a project in the area carried out by two organizations fighting climate change with Oxfam, the Alliance Technique d'Assistance au Développement (“Technical Alliance for Development Assistance” or ATAD) and the Association pour la Gestion de l'Environnement et le Développement (“Association for Environmental Management and Development,” AGED).

Faced with poor yields from his grain crops, Inoussa Sawodogo added fruit trees to his farm and is now making enough money to support his family. Samuel Turpin/Oxfam


Their work is helping farmers like Sawodogo, 35, to diversify his crops and earn more money. They teach farmers climate change adaptation: They produce their own compost, and build stone walls to capture moisture around crops and reduce erosion. ATAD and AGED also help improve wells and install pumps in this area of central Burkina Faso that is affected by global warming, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of the capital Ouagadougou. It’s an area where farmers are working to survive an unforgiving environment and climate change.

Fruits of his labor

Facing more and more difficult cereal harvests, Sawodogo began also growing fruit trees. He planted a tree nursery and fertilizes the seedlings with his own compost, and works on building a fence around his fruit trees to prevent animals from wandering in and eating the fruit. He is also concerned about pests infesting his trees.

But the addition of fruit trees is paying off. “Today the income I make allows me to meet all of the family's expenses, such as healthcare and paying for my four children to go to school,” he says proudly.

Inoussa Sawodogo builds a fence around his field to protect his crops. “Today my main problem is water, and the animals that come to eat and step on my crops,” he says. Samuel Turpin/Oxfam


Climate change is making it more and more difficult for farmers like Sawodogo to grow enough food. And when a pandemic hits, movement restrictions and other economic effects are also hitting the poorest farmers hard, increasing economic inequality.

Oxfam and our partners are finding innovative ways to help farmers in arid areas adapt to climate change by improving access to water, and maximize it with erosion control measures that also capture more moisture in their fields. It’s all part of our work to help those most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change, but who are least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions causing it, to adapt and find long-term solutions to climate change and poverty.

Adapting to dry conditions is hard work, but Sawodogo is ready. “Everything you see here is the result of my own work,” he says. “I did everything myself, with the help of my family.”

As the youth, we are the future of the world

Jessy and Isaac are two young Malawian climate activists.
Back in 2019 they visited London, with the help of Send My Friend To School and the support of Oxfam. They talked about their personal experiences of climate change with school students. And addressed activists gathered in London to protest against climate change.

In March 2021, writer James Chavula and photographer Thoko Chikondi caught up with them and their families at home in Malawi. To see how they continue their activism.

Jessy and her parents take photos at their home in a village in Kasungu District of Malawi. Photo Credit: Thoko Chikondi/Oxfam

CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTS US A LOT.

Crops dry before they mature because we receive too little rainfall. Since the rains stop before our crops are ready for harvesting, we experience hunger every year.

"We can no longer tell when the rainy season will start, so we often plant late and lose our crops to dry spells and pest attacks.” - Jessy, climate activist, Malawi

SOME USE THE WATER FROM UNPROTECTED WELLS

For drinking, washing clothes, cleaning utensils and cooking. This results in diarrhoea, which affects their lives and productivity. The long search for water also exposes them to sexual violence
It can also lead to breakdowns in marriage, as men think women spend hours sleeping, not fetching water.

"I want to show the doubters the impact of climate change in my country.” - Jessy, climate activist, Malawi

OUR PARENTS USE EVERYTHING TO FEED US INSTEAD OF PAYING SCHOOL FEES

We eat nsima [a sort of corn porridge] as lunch and supper. Most people grow maize, groundnuts and soya beans. We use maize flour to make nsima and usually sell the other crops to buy extra food and other basic needs.
Families like mine sell the surplus [crop] to send children to school. If we harvest too little, we have nothing to sell. When we are hit hard, they have to choose between sending a boy or a girl to school. The boy child wins because it is our culture.


Many Malawians think that a girl child is less important than a boy, so they send a boy to school and leave girls to do household chores or marry young.
I feel sad because boys and girls are equal. Both can change the world if they are given a chance to learn. From 2012 to 2014, Malawi had a female president, Joyce Banda. If you educate a boy or a girl, it is just the same.


Senior Chief Lukwa and Jessy inspect some of the early maturing crops the chief is growing on his farm. The chief encourages smallholder farmers to practice climate smart agriculture by planting early maturing crops.

OUR LEADERS ARE NOT DOING A GOOD JOB


They don’t realise the impact of climate change that my community and I are experiencing. Poor countries are paying a huge price for massive emissions from wealthy nations. Maybe our leaders need civic education. To become aware of the harsh effects of climate change and start doing something about it.
"Most families in Malawi have no means to support themselves and improve their livelihoods. They depend on farming, but crops don’t do well due to a changing weather pattern. This worsens hunger and poverty.” - Jessy, climate activist, Malawi

Jessy and her parents at home in Malawi. Photo Credit: Thoko Chikondi/Oxfam

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR US TO DEMAND ACTION

So that we can have a good environment and a fair place for us.
I felt great [when I learnt that Isaac and I had been selected to go to London]. That’s when I realised that I am part of a youth movement that can bring change to the world. I have pictures from London Bridge, Emirates Stadium and other places of interest.

For a person like me to stand in public and talk about the effects of climate change on my country, it wasn’t easy.
I realised that even young people can speak their mind and change the world. The trip has changed my life.

"As the youth, we are the future of the world. It is very important for young people to speak our mind because old people’s lifespan is almost over. They can die anytime. If we continue to destroy the environment and neglect climate change, it will be difficult for us to survive. If we get no rain the whole year, what are we going to eat? How are we going to survive?” - Jessy, Climate activist, Malawi

Jessy and her mum in their crop field in Malawi. Jessy’s parents are one of the smallholder farmers who are particularly vulnerable to negative impacts of climate change such as increased water shortages and shorter growing seasons and are encouraged to practice climate smart agriculture by planting early maturing crops

I know Greta [Thunberg] and Vanesa [Nakate]. When I went to London, I heard her voice and realised that even young people are taking part in tackling climate change. This gives me the courage and a step to fight for climate justice in Malawi also.

"I have self-confidence and I can speak to anyone about climate change. If I see someone destroying the environment, I tell them to stop it. When I meet fellow young people, I encourage them to amplify their voice.” - Jessy, climate activist, Malawi

I want many young Malawians to take part in the movement. I want to continue campaigning for climate action because I am thinking about generations to come. I want to fight for them to have a better place. I realize that the good thing I want, someone else is also looking for it. It’s a good thing to fight for them to have a good thing as well.

I HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY CLIMATE CHANGE.


I failed to go to school because my parents couldn’t pay school fees every time crops did not do well. I want to show the doubters the impact of climate change in my country. People in Nsanje District are displaced by flooding every year. Teachers cannot teach because they are thinking about their destroyed homes and what they are going to feed their children.

I WILL TRY MY BEST TO DO WHAT GRETA IS DOING

Now I’m confident. I can go [to Parliament] alone (although old people in Malawi do not respect the views of the children). I just need encouragement and guidance on how I can work and how I can go to Parliament.
(In Malawi, it is difficult to meet members of Parliament and prominent politicians. They have guards and you need to go through a restrictive procedure to meet them, yet they claim to represent the interest of the people they don’t want to meet).

I can't remember why I joined my father in planting this tree (I was young). However, he did the right thing. It's a good example for all to emulate. When it’s warm, we sit in the shade to share stories and study. As young people, we owe future generations what dad did for my benefit.

Jessy urges leaders at all levels to ramp up climate change [measures]. Because low emitters such as Malawi and other developing countries are hit hard by climate change. It's the same ask she delivered to the mayor of London. As well as leaders of both the Labour and Conservative parties in the UK. The UK has pledged to cut back on pollution from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels drive its manufacturing and transport sector.
She is looking forward to meeting with President Lazarus Chakwera and tells him:

"We won't overcome challenges caused by climate change if leaders continue to just talk about it instead of taking decisive action to make the planet a better place for everyone, even the unborn.” - Jessy, climate activist, Malawi


This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Oxfam and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union

Keeping 1.5°C alive in the lead up to COP26

 

Article written by Rod Goodbun and PJ Jacobs

 

In August we saw the release of the report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis.[1] The report provides the latest information on past warming and future warming projections, showing how and why the climate has changed to date, and including an improved understanding of how humans have influenced the climate, including by driving extreme events like droughts, floods and fires. It represents the world’s highest-level of scientific consensus on global warming.

Our colleagues at Oxfam International are calling the report “…the most compelling wake-up call yet for global industry to switch from oil, gas and coal to renewables,” and they are urging governments to drive this transition through policy and laws. Ahead of the Glasgow COP26, when the world will come together again to consider what global action to take, it’s critically urgent that our government is heeding the warnings from the latest science.

Climate change harms vulnerable communities across the globe

The IPCC report tells us that climate change is happening now, and that global warming is already one of the most harmful drivers of worsening hunger and starvation, migration, poverty and inequality all over the world. In recent years, already with 1°C of global heating, there have been deadly cyclones in Asia and Central America, huge locust swarms across Africa.

In the last six years cyclones Pam, Winston and Harold have devastated communities in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga leading to coastline erosion, raising water table salinity, and reducing crop yields and supplies of freshwater with some communities being forced to relocate.

Over the past 10 years, more people around the world have been forced from their homes by extreme weather-related disasters than for any other single reason ― 20 million a year, or one person every two seconds. The number of climate-related disasters has tripled in 30 years. Since 2000, the UN estimates that 1.23 million people have died and 4.2 billion have been affected by droughts, floods and wildfires.

We must act now to limit warming to 1.5°C

While there is no ‘safe’ level of warming, 1.5°C has long been considered a limit to avoid the worst impacts. Multiple lines of evidence indicate that we will soon exceed 1.5°C of warming above pre-industrial levels, expected in the early to mid-2030s, unless we take strong action now.[2] A new report by Greenpeace on the state of climate in the Pacific concludes that if all current pledges to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by the world’s nations are achieved, the world is still projected to heat by a median estimate of 2.4°C by 2100, with a possible range of 1.9 to 3.0°C.[3]

The main perpetrators of global warming – that is, rich countries and corporations that have reaped massive wealth by burning fossil fuels – must be the ones to cut their emissions first, fastest and furthest. Oxfam is calling on governments to set new targets to reduce carbon emissions ahead of COP26. The work of the Climate Targets Panel tells us that countries need to reduce their emissions by 75% below 2005 levels by 2030, reach net zero by 2035 and develop a concrete plan to rapidly phase-out coal and gas from energy supplies to stay within the goal of 1.5°C.

No one is safe from climate change

The climate crisis affects us all, but it doesn’t affect us equally. The richest 1% of people in the world, about 63 million people, are responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the 3.1 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. The people with money and power will be able to buy some protection against the effects of global warming for longer than those without those privileges and resources ― but not forever. No one is safe.

Rich countries have a responsibility to pay their fair share to developing countries by scaling up climate finance to help them adapt to the effects of the climate crisis and transition to clean energy. Governments must increase climate finance and resume contributions to the Green Climate Fund – a major global fund to help the poorest countries grapple with the climate crisis. The world has as much to gain in terms of human safety, development, opportunity and jobs by running a global economy on renewables, as it has to lose in continuing dirty business-as-usual.


The IPCC report must spur governments to act together and build a fairer and greener global economy to ensure the world stays within 1.5°C of warming. They must cement this at the COP26 in Glasgow.


[1] IPCC,  Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, 2021, Sixth Assessment Report (ipcc.ch)
[2] Climate Targets Panel, Australia’s Paris Agreement Pathways: Updating the Climate Change Authority’s 2014 Emissions Reduction Target, 2021, https://www.climatecollege.unimelb.edu.au/files/site1/docs/%5Bmi7%3Ami7u...
[3] Greenpeace, Te Mana O Te Moana, The State of Climate in the Pacific 2021, 2021, https://act.greenpeace.org.au/pacific-climate-report
[4] ClimateWorks Australia, Decarbonisation Futures: Solutions, actions and benchmarks for a net zero emissions Australia – ClimateWorks (climateworksaustralia.org), 2020.
 

Pages