The Climate Crisis is Already Devastating the Poor

Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Service, writes:

The United Nations’ latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is undoubtedly the strongest warning yet that a failure to address the causes of climate change will be disastrous. No country or state will be spared. It proves what we’ve known for years: Faster and more efficient measures must be taken if we want to see meaningful environmental changes in the next few decades. At the same time, we must do a better job helping those already dealing with catastrophe.

As the head of the Baltimore-based global charity Catholic Relief Services (CRS), I’m alarmed by how fast the planet’s changes are impacting the communities we serve. For example, in Southern Madagascar, families are surviving prolonged drought by eating insects, wilted cactus leaves and wild berries. In Guatemala, farmers in the Dry Corridor are migrating to make money after erratic rainfall and horrendous storms ruined their crops. In communities from the Middle East to southern Asia, the climate crisis has been equally devastating….

For example, the U.S. should significantly increase its support of the Green Climate Fund, which was set up as the primary way for countries to fund climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. A substantial portion of the Green Climate Fund gets directed toward countries most at risk. In August, before leaving for recess, the U.S. House passed its Fiscal Year 2022 State and Foreign Operations bill. Their bill provides $1.6 billion for the Green Climate Fund, in addition to other important climate-related investments, which in total equals $3 billion. We urge the Senate to follow suit and see these investments through.

In the meantime, organizations like CRS are on the front lines of the climate crisis. Across Africa, we work with farmers using climate-smart agriculture techniques. In countries like Bangladesh and the Philippines, we’re helping communities in low-lying areas prepare for storms. In Central America, we’re helping farmers protect their soil and make more efficient use of scarce water. Some of the projects fueling this work are already funded by the U.S. government and other generous donors. Additional investments from the public and private sectors could take these programs to scale.