Monday, 23 March 2009

Bristol: Cambodian speakers to warn of climate change

BRISTOL - 23 March 2009

"Homes are being flooded, droughts are harsher and longer, crops are failing and people are struggling to feed their families. Poor people are seeing their livelihoods threatened. People are suffering now and unless we take direct action now we are facing a devastating future." These words from Sophea Lay who with Sarin Khim are Cambodian environmental experts helping to launch aid agency CAFOD's Climate Justice Campaign in Bristol on Wednesday 25 March.

CAFOD is campaigning along with an extensive global network of Catholic aid agencies bringing together hundreds of thousands of Catholics across the world to call on their governments to negotiate a just and equitable agreement at this years UN climate change talks in Copenhagen in December. CAFOD and its supporters are calling on the UK government to take the lead amongst EU countries in these talks.

Bishop Declan and CAFOD Director Chris Bain will join Sarin and Sophea at the Bristol launch at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 25 March at St Teresa's Social Centre, 71 Gloucester Road North, Filton, Bristol BS34 7PL.

Tony Vassallo Clifton Diocese CAFOD Manager said: "The campaign is launching in Bristol but will stretch across the world.

"People have a chance to be part of something huge and critical and to demand the Government takes action to ensure the UN agrees a fair and binding global deal that puts communities at its heart."

Changes in climate are already affecting people's lives across the world. In Cambodia, irregular rainfall is affecting rice cultivation and communities' access to clean and safe water due to shortages during the dry season, whilst increased flooding during the wet season is leading to environmental and social damage.

Changing weather conditions are making life increasingly difficult for people like Cambodian farmer Sop Kunny and his family. Kunny says: "The weather is different from before. Now, the rains fall irregularly, so it is hard to grow or harvest the crops. Sometimes there is unusually heavy rain and flooding, and sometimes there is no rain for many months. This year, the rains came early, but stopped. Now, there is no rain even though it is still the rainy season. I don't know what to do."

CAFOD Director Chris Bain said: "Developing countries bear the brunt of climate change and yet have done the least to cause it. By standing together and raising our voices we can have a real influence on whether governments choose to protect the most vulnerable people in the world. This campaign is vital for people's survival."

The campaign is calling for a deal that: helps people to flourish in developing countries by supporting their right to sustainable development; provides necessary support for developing countries - who are hit first and hardest by climate change - to adapt to the impacts of extreme weather; and tackles the root causes of the problem by cutting emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.


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