Browse by Theme: Climate Change

Ten years ago on Boxing Day, the Indian Ocean tsunamis crashed into the shorelines of 14 countries, killing more than 228,000 people and making almost two million more people homeless and bereaved. The scale of the disaster and the speed with which entire towns and communities were swept away was something the modern world had never seen before. This was to change the way we prepare for and respond to crises forever.

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The Philippines has been classified by the World Bank as a ‘lower-middle income’ economy. On the surface of things, the Philippines’ economic gains in recent years, and its growing numbers of new middle-class citizens, represent an optimistic narrative. But as the country still struggles to come to terms with the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, is this the real story on the ground?

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After natural disasters the phrase ‘Build Back Better’ is a constant refrain from politicians, donors, aid agencies and the media. This short, alliterative phrase has captured the imagination, and seems at first glance to be a simple, powerful and necessary principle. But is it the best message about what we do?

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Information about past, present and future climate conditions can be a key tool for communities to plan for and adapt to climate change. But critics question the value of climate science, claiming it is too complex, overly technical and not practical enough to be useful. Why does climate science provoke such strong reactions? And how can we unlock the potential value of accessible and usable climate information?

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In 2011, it took 16 official warnings of a food security crisis before famine was finally declared in Somalia. The human cost of this was at least 260,000 lives, half of which belonged to young children. The financial cost of this was at least three times more than it would have been had early preventive action been taken. The Guardian dubbed it ‘the avoidable disaster’ and NGOs, donors and the international community at large swore it would never happen again. Yet three years later, we find ourselves in uncomfortably familiar territory.

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As one of the estimated 30,000-40,000 people who took to the streets of London yesterday (as well as one of an estimated 570,000 people who protested across 161 countries) I am calling on governments of the world to take action on climate change URGENTLY. We cannot tackle poverty without tackling climate change – we have an urgent moral responsibility to stop the causes of climate change, and to help the most vulnerable to adapt to the impacts that are already locked into our climate system. This is not an environmental issue – this is a human rights issues.

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Only days remain before world leaders gather at the UN climate summit in New York. The summit, which is being billed as the most important high-level event on climate change since heads of state met in Copenhagen in 2009, is generating widespread interest – and so it should. Climate change is the critical issue of our time.

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