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World News

People with disabilities in poorer countries will be the hardest hit by climate change, says Christian charity

An overseas Christian disability charity is urging people to think about the impact of climate change on people with disabilities.

Charity CMB, which started as Christian Blind Mission but now works internationally on other physical needs too, has said that COP26 attendees should have looked more at the impact of extreme weather on those with disabilities and their families, who it says are often already the poorest in their society. CBM argues that climate change could push over 100 million people into poverty by 2030.  

It points out that those with physical needs in developing countries may be unable to walk long distances to access emergency food distribution or find out about what help is available.

Kirsty Smith, chief executive of CBM told Premier they are particularly concerned about Madagascar, where a lack of rain has meant farms have dried up and sandstorms have meant fields are covered in sand: “Four years of back-to-back droughts have left over a million people facing severe hunger and malnutrition in southern Madagascar – and the UN is warning that more than 15,000 women, men and children are living in life-threatening, famine conditions.

“People with disabilities, already among the most marginalised in their communities, are among those hardest hit. This is the human face of the climate crisis. The world’s poorest people, who have done least to cause climate change, are suffering – even dying - as a result of it. It’s one of the greatest injustices of our age.”

Smith added that the situation in Madagascar was part of a wider pattern of those with the fewest resources to fall back on bearing the brunt of extreme weather changes.  

Most climate experts say that specific weather events cannot be directly attributed to climate change as it is hard to prove, but that a change in global temperature can be blamed for a consistent pattern of events, such as floods due to melting ice caps or the increased temperature drying up land more quickly so crops cannot grow.

CBM was at COP26 this past week to try to ensure that people with disabilities were not forgotten amid countries where famine is a problem and to highlight the inequality between those producing pollution and those feeling the effects of it.

Madagascar produces less than 0.01 per cent of local carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Global Carbon Project.

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