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Today, world leaders sign the global climate change agreement

Posted by Tom Hayes Head of UK Campaigns

22nd Apr 2016

Four months ago, governments from around the world agreed a global climate deal in Paris. This Friday, government officials will sign that agreement in a ceremony at the United Nations.  

UN officials believe the signing ceremony will set a new record: never before will so many countries have signed an agreement on the first day. Already the Paris agreement has helped to make history: for the first time ever, 190 countries committed to taking climate action in partnership with the private sector and civil society.

The campaigning of tens of thousands of people both here in the UK and around the globe, marching and demanding a strong deal, was crucial to achieving that. London, Belfast, and Cardiff saw their biggest ever climate marches, as 50,000 climate activists marched in London and a whopping 34 million people saw Oxfam's #eyesonparis action on social media

The momentum for climate action is strong.  The public see that we don't have a planet B. Already the changing climate is taking a toll on everyone, hurting the poorest in particular.  Millions of people worldwide face a devastating future of failed harvests, having less food to sell at market or feed their families with, and ultimately being forced into hunger.

The world's response to hotter temperatures and rising seas will see countries set their own targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. The agreement is the first step towards global recognition that more funding will be needed to support communities in adapting to the changing climate over the next five years.

This deal is a major breakthrough after the failed 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen. But it's not the end of climate campaigning, and the financing to make the Paris deal a reality is critical. The agreement only has a commitment to setting a new collective finance target by 2025 at some point after 2020, and lacks any recognition of the need for a separate target to guarantee that funds are spent on climate change adaptation. Total adaptation finance currently sums up to $3 a year for each poor farmer in the developing world.

Every country has to live up to its commitments. But if there is no commitment to invest money on climate change adaptation, what could happen to people already affected?

Sadly, we already know. This year, an extreme El Niño weather pattern, made worse by our changing climate is leaving 60 million people at risk of hunger, poverty and disease. Unless we have adequate funding for adaptation, we will see this crisis go on. Unless we see action at the next important global summit (#COP22 in Morocco later this year), we will see this crisis spiral out of control.

Governments have the power to tackle the effects of weather patterns like El Niño. After the Paris pact signing conference in New York on Friday, donor countries will come together at conference in Geneva next Tuesday. There, governments will have a huge chance to provide urgently needed funding for countries facing an immediate humanitarian crisis.

At the moment $2billion is missing from the response. With the right amount of money, the countries hurting the most can begin to save lives and soften the impact of the crisis.

So, take action now and ask the leaders who put us within striking distance of a better global climate deal to provide the emergency funds needed to stop people going hungry. 

Blog post written by Tom Hayes

Head of UK Campaigns

More by Tom Hayes