New Delhi, India — School children, joined Greenpeace activists to tell Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, before she left India, that mere talk isn’t enough to avert a climate catastrophe. With photographs and messages from children, women and men from Aila hit Sunderbans, the children demanded that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama be leaders and ensure that the irreparable damage that climate change would wreck on the environment and people was avoided.
“The US is one of the biggest culprits contributing to global warming, which has led to an increase in the intensity of disasters including the cyclone in Sunderbans leading to a humanitarian crisis there. Why should the vulnerable pay the price for this crisis to which they have contributed little? Its time the culprits started taking responsibility for their actions and it has to start from the US.” said Siddharth Pathak, climate campaigner, Greenpeace.
The election of Barack Obama had raised lots of hope to get real leadership on climate. 5 months ahead of the UN-climate conference in Copenhagen, meant to be the most crucial to get a good decision on addressing the danger of climate change, there has hardly been any leadership from Obama. “We need strong actions globally to avert this crisis and these actions need to start from the industrialized countries. Contrary to the imperative, the US has repeatedly failed to come up with strong domestic mitigation actions and is silent on the financial support for developing countries to help the most vulnerable peoples adapt to the impacts of global warming.” said Pathak.
In the meantime, the impacts of climate change on various countries have been devastating. Cyclone Aila has left lakhs homeless and dependent on relief materials. With agricultural fields ruined by salt water ingress there is likely to be a shortage of locally grown food in the affected areas, and a loss of livelihood. Delayed and insufficient monsoons have worsened the situation in the monocrop agriculture region. Thousands of people from this region have already sought refuge in Kolkata in search of food and employment, with many thousand more climate migrants likely.
“Sunderbans is just one example. Barack and Hillary should look at the Sunderbans and start taking immediate steps to curb the effects of climate change.” He added.
The Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, demonstrated leadership at the G8 summit in Italy earlier this month by showing solidarity to limit global temperature rise below 2 degress Celsius. For fulfilling the commitment of limiting global warming, industrialized countries need to start reducing emissions domestically and ensure they provide financial and technological support to countries like India where vulnerable people are suffering from the impacts of climate change.