Stories of climate change: EJF art exhibition at the European Parliament
For some, climate change means a family home destroyed by flooding. For others, the loss of precious livestock or even human life. Rains come too early, snow comes too late. Everyone has a different tale to tell. Next week at the European Parliament the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) will launch its photo exhibition telling the stories of people living at the frontlines of climate change.
One of the images shows Bangladeshi Shoripa Bibi, who was forced from her home because of flooding and erosion. She is now living in a slum in Dhaka. “We had a house. We had cows, goats, chickens and ducks. […] We had crops, not much, but enough to live on. I’ve lost my land. The river took everything from me.” Up to half of the millions of people now living in Bangladesh’s urban slums may be there because they were forced to flee their rural homes as a result of riverbank erosion.
On the other side of the world, the photos show Sami reindeer herders fighting for their livelihoods in northern Sweden, pulling their starved reindeer from the snow as they try to see a future for themselves and their families. Kenneth Pittja, a reindeer herder and Sami community leader has warning words for us all: “People around the world in the big cities will not understand before it gets close to you down there. We see it up here now. There is something happening. We are destroying this planet with this way of living.”
In Jordan, a young refugee girl is photographed playing in the parched sands. In her homeland of Syria some 1.3-1.5 million people were on the move from drought-stricken regions before a single gunshot was fired. While climate change is not the only cause of conflict in Syria, it is increasingly viewed as a ‘threat multiplier’.
These people are living with the reality of our collective failure to act on climate change.
By bringing these people’s stories to the European Parliament EJF is calling on EU leaders directly to take action: To create a new legal agreement guaranteeing the rights of climate refugees and their fair claim to our shared world.
Ending our carbon addiction is also an absolute priority. We must immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet our international commitments under the Paris Agreement to ensure that temperature rise is kept below 1.5°C.
The EU now has the opportunity to show real leadership, by investing heavily in climate mitigation and creating an international, binding agreement on legal recognition and protection for climate refugees.
Immediate new measures to move rapidly to a zero emissions world and fair treatment for those affected by climate change is the only way forward.
Sign our petition to tell EU leaders to stand up for the rights of climate refugees