IFRC and UNFCCC call for Cooperative action to meet Climate Challenge

Publié: 13 mars 2015

Statement by Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Risks from climate change are on the rise, jeopardizing hard-won development gains and posing formidable challenges to people and communities around the world. Millions of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers – from small island states to large urban centres – can testify to this reality, and the recently released IPCC 5th Assessment Report confirms that the challenge of climate change is unprecedented in human history.  Overcoming this challenge requires an unprecedented level of cooperation.

Climate science shows what the world needs to achieve. We have a three-part goal to successfully address climate change: peaking global emissions in the next decade, triggering a deep de-carbonization of the global economy, and achieving climate neutrality as soon as possible in the second half of the century.

One thing is certain at this crucial moment – reducing the risks of climate change requires collaborative and coordinated action by every government, industry, investor, agency and citizen.

As governments move closer to a new, universal climate change agreement in Paris later this year, the humanitarian community is also charting its course forward at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) being convened this month in Sendai, Japan. We urge all leaders and participants in Sendai to add their voices to the growing chorus calling for climate action. In this way, they will open the door to a safer tomorrow for everyone on the planet.

At the WCDRR, the IFRC will call for the new post-2015 framework to be inclusive of a broader community resilience agenda that safeguards sustainable development gains and integrates disaster risk reduction together with public health, poverty reduction and climate change strategies. We will announce our One Billion Coalition for Resilience initiative to bring together a wide range of like-minded individuals and organization to form new partnerships that expand our reach to engage more local communities across the globe.

Yet past greenhouse gas emissions still commit us to climate risks for decades to come. National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are tackling the effects of climate change through disaster risk reduction and resilience building. At the Climate Summit in September last year, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) committed to support high-risk communities in at least 40 countries, in using climate information to enhance their resilience and to scale up public awareness and education on changing climate risks by mobilizing its vast network of volunteers and systematically communicating to the general public about the effects of climate change in major disasters.

It is imperative to immediately curb emissions drastically or we will be reaching the limits of adaptation in many communities, often with dramatic humanitarian consequences. The IFRC is active in the effort to reduce emissions, avert risks and adapt to climate impacts. Guided by its Strategy 2020, the IFRC calls for advocacy and social mobilization to promote sustainable community development that minimizes the carbon footprints of communities and its own IFRC activities.

The IFRC is strongly committed to working with its 189 member National Societies to address the causes and consequences of climate change at scale and in the context of national climate change strategies. Engaging and empowering local communities ensures that these strategies materialize on the ground. The sustained and trusted presence of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in communities and their day-to-day interaction with community members is a formidable asset in promoting low-carbon, climate resilient development and in protecting development gains.

The IFRC and its members have a long track record in public awareness and education, crucial components in promoting environmentally sustainable living. By  spreading environmental values and best practices through education programs, awareness campaigns and information distribution, the IFRC can contribute to climate friendly behaviour and action such as tree planting and care, solid waste management, food waste minimization and recycling. IFRC is committed to mobilizing its extensive network of 189 National Societies and over 17 million active volunteers in the effort to get everyone involved in meeting the climate change challenge.

National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are also directly contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  For example in Viet Nam, the Red Cross has been planting and protecting mangrove forests since 1994. Today, these mangroves are the first line of defence against rising waters and destruction caused by typhoons or storm surge. These forests are also carbon sinks that help reduce emissions and ultimately achieve full climate neutrality, where global emissions are balanced by the planet’s ability to absorb the emissions.

Similarly, the Kenyan Red Cross Society and the IFRC have recently launched the Sustainable Environment Restoration Programme, together with the Kenyan Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, with the aim of planting and caring for 2.5 billion trees by 2018, restoring river basins, conducting environmental education in all schools, and managing solid waste to tackle environmental degradation and climate change.

These are but two important examples. By building on synergies between disaster risk reduction, climate adaptation and emission reduction, the IFRC can deliver benefits to people in communities counted among the most vulnerable to climate change. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change recognizes these initiatives as models for global mobilization of Red Cross and Red Crescent members and encourages more National Societies to work with governments to develop and implement ambitious national action plans.

From distribution of clean cook stoves, to education on the value of natural capital, to the implementation of climate-safe development, Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers are a powerful force with still greater potential to deliver health and socioeconomic benefits to communities that will be hit hardest by climate change.

For more information please contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNFCCC Spokesperson  
Mobile: +49 152 0168 4831 Office: +49 228 815 1400 (phone)
Email: nnuttall(at)unfccc.int

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies:
Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, team leader, public communications and outreach
Mobile: +41 79 213 24 13  Office : +41 22 730 46 96
Email: benoit.carpentier(at)ifrc.org

About the UNFCCC
With 196 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties. For the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments. In Doha in 2012, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol adopted an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, which establishes the second commitment period under the Protocol. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
See also:  <http://unfccc.int/press/items/2794.php>
Follow UNFCCC on Twitter:  @UNFCCC | Español: @CMNUCC| Français: @CCNUCC
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres on Twitter: @CFigueres
UNFCCC on Facebook:  facebook.com/UNclimatechange

About the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
The IFRC is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 million people each year through our 189 member National Societies. Together, we act before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. We do so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions.