Women are demanding climate change action in Bangkok

4/9/18: UNFCCC cannot afford to drown out voices of those most affected by climate change as major conference begins

With women and children 14 times more likely to die during disaster than men, the UN Climate Conference in Bangkok (UNFCCC) starting today, is a critical moment for the women’s movement on climate justice. ActionAid, a global organisation working to fight poverty and injustice, is calling on world leaders to listen to women’s demands and take strong action to prevent further catastrophic impacts of climate-related disasters.

The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change saw governments pledge to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius. While Trade Minister Simon Birmingham announced on Sunday that the new Morrison Government would honour Australia’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, the Australian Government has yet to introduce a policy to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions, which rank amongst the highest in the world per capita.

“It is outrageous that Australia, as one of the biggest polluters in the world and a signatory to the Paris Agreement, currently has no national policy to reduce our carbon emissions,” says ActionAid Australia Executive Director, Michelle Higelin.

This week in Bangkok, women’s rights organisations like ActionAid Australia are calling for concrete action on climate change and are putting pressure on world leaders to agree on a detailed ‘rulebook’ for implementation of the Paris Agreement to stop climate devastation spiralling further out of control.

Informed by consultations with local women and communities around the world, ActionAid has five demands for world leaders gathering in Bangkok that will help pave the way for vital progress on climate justice:

• The Paris ‘rulebook’ must guarantee sufficient and predictable climate finance for low income countries;
• Protection must be guaranteed for communities, including women, experiencing climate-induced loss and damage, and those living with the impacts of climate-induced migration and displacement;
• The rulebook must safeguard food security and human rights, including women’s rights and land rights;
• Urgent action to cut emissions is needed if the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C is to be achieved;
• All countries must do their fair share of climate action. Wealthy countries like Australia must take the lead on this, recognising that they have contributed the majority of harmful emissions and have greater capacity to respond.

Extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change are already threatening the safety of communities around the world with those impacts being felt most by women, and other marginalised groups such as people with disabilities and young people, in low income countries.

Community leader, Laily Begum from Bangladesh, is being supported by ActionAid to attend the UNFCCC Conference to share her experiences and champion women’s leadership in building communities that are resilient to the growing threat of climate change.

“Women are slowly recognising the rights and dignity of themselves. They are perceiving that they are also competent of doing something that men used to do,” she says.

Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable to climate disasters, which have been exacerbated by rising sea levels. Laily’s community has seen harvests, livestock and houses destroyed, and loved ones swept away by extreme flooding.

ActionAid Australia is supporting women, through programs in more than a dozen countries, including Cambodia, Kenya and Vanuatu, to build their resilience in the face of climate change and to promote women’s leadership during disaster.

“It is the voices of women on the frontlines of climate disaster that need to be heard in critical spaces like UNFCCC in Bangkok,” says Ms Higelin.

“While women and their communities continue to lose their homes, their lives and their livelihoods as a result of the devastating impacts of climate change, Australia is failing to provide leadership when it comes to climate change policy. Women’s rights organisations like ActionAid Australia will be watching what happens in Bangkok closely, and demanding greater accountability and action from the Australian Government on climate change and its impact on women’s rights.”

For Media Enquiries:

Media and Communications Manager, ActionAid Australia:
Carmen Hawker (02) 9565 9138 or [email protected]

Thais Portilho ActionAid International Press Office (London)
(+44) 07584 995 681 [email protected]