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Already today, climate change is a reality, which includes slow-onset changes like temperature increase or sea level rise, on-going desertification and melting ice caps, but also altered frequencies of natural extremes like tropical cyclones, floods and droughts. Industrialisation of the past 150 years, with its increasing emissions of greenhouse gases (like CO2), is the main driver of this change. The continued emissions would radically change the eco-systems of the planet over the coming decades and trigger a difficult to control dynamic of natural extremes, with potentially catastrophic consequences.
While the impacts of climate change are becoming visible in the developed world as well, the poor from the developing countries will suffer most from the dramatic consequences: extending deserts, soils salty from sea water intrusion, increasing intensity of tropical cyclones. Even though geophysical events such as earthquakes and tsunamis are claiming most human lives, already today, more than 80 percent of all catastrophes related to natural extremes are caused by weather and climate.
Aware of the immediate relevance of disasters and climate change impacts for survival and livelihood of poor populations in developing countries, Caritas Switzerland, in its programs of International Cooperation, has for many years been active in the areas of climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as disaster risk reduction.
Climate change and its significance for poverty is furthermore highlighted as an urgent topic to government and the public, both in the partner countries and within Switzerland.