Bishop Theotonius Gomes: Let us be mindful of the poorest when the storms roll in

• November 14, 2012
Bishop Theotonis Gomes

Courtesy: CIDSE, 2008

The eyes of the world were on New York as super-storm Sandy approached it at the end of October, leaving behind a trail of devastation along the Eastern Coasts of Central America and the United States.

Unlike many of the other countries affected, the US was well-prepared to deal with violent natural disasters. Even though each life lost is one too many, relatively few people died in the US. If a similar storm had hit the Southern Coasts of Bangladesh many lives would have been lost and even more people would no longer have a roof over their heads, and no services to fall back on.

Research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that natural disasters between 1980 and 2002 caused an average of 17 deaths per windstorm in the US, compared to nearly 2,000 in Bangladesh. Storms are equally brutal in any place; but loss of life and devastation can be controlled according to one’s capacity to face them. This includes financial capacity. While developed countries like the US have it, Bangladesh still needs to build this capacity and it needs support to do so.

As the international climate negotiations are about to re-open a few weeks from now in Doha (26 November – 7 December 2012), the EU needs to honour its promises to support developing countries financially to cope with climate change – the impacts of which include more severe and frequent extreme weather events, like Hurricane Sandy.

Although plenty of efforts have been undertaken already, Bangladesh will never be prepared enough without assistance from the EU and other developed countries. Agreements to support developing countries facing ever-more serious climate change impacts financially date back to 2009.

Developed countries created a fund, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), pledging $100 billion per year by 2020 for climate needs in developing countries. This December the first period of climate finance ends, but there is no assurance about the future of finance from 2013 onwards.

Read more: The Huffington Post >>

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