Hotter planet, humanitarian crisis: El Niño, the “new normal” and the need for climate justice

Hotter planet, humanitarian crisis: El Niño, the “new normal” and the need for climate justice

In April 2016, almost a year after the first strong warnings were issued, as water sources dried up and crops withered across much of the world, and as UN humanitarian experts predicted that up to 100 million people would need international humanitarian relief, world leaders met at UN headquarters in New York to celebrate the official signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement. A succession of soaring speeches celebrated the climate action that the new deal would supposedly bring, but not a single leader referred to the fact
that the planet was already in the grip of one of the most widespread drought crises ever seen.

The stark contrast between the celebrations over the Paris Agreement, and the lack of international response to an actual climate crisis at the speed and scale required, shows how much needs to be done to ensure that global decision-making on the climate can help the most vulnerable. The 2015-16 El Niño crisis has exposed a clear disconnect between climate rhetoric and humanitarian action.

As the impacts of climate change are felt hardest by the countries who have least responsibility for creating the problem, a fair shares approach to climate justice can provide guidance for appropriate levels of humanitarian aid and boost support for the most vulnerable.

And as the UNFCCC continues its celebration and ratification of the newly-formed Paris Agreement, the millions that are still hungry must not be forgotten.

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