How you’ve been helping Oxfam fight climate change

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EarthDay-webstory
Sandra Stowe/Oxfam

You've been helping Oxfam fight climate change for years, and the work is only just beginning.

Oxfam has been fighting for decades to protect the rights and livelihoods of people most affected by the climate crisis, provide support when climate disasters strike, and ensure that the people and corporations who are doing the most harm to the planet are held accountable—work we could not do without supporters like you.

So, what does that look like in action?

Responding to humanitarian emergencies

One of the ways we support communities impacted by climate change is through our crucial humanitarian work. Because of generous supporters like you, we are able to help communities around the world recover from disasters caused and exacerbated by climate change.

Oxfam partners with a global network of local organizations to deliver clean water, food, cash, and information to communities in immediate need. We also help local responders break their dependence on aid by investing in their communities before disaster strikes and provide support as they move toward adaptation and resiliency.

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A woman collects water from a natural spring created by the landslides in a mountain next to a road in Corozal, Puerto Rico, on September 24, 2017. Before the hurricane, most households in Puerto Rico enjoyed indoor plumbing and reliable running water. When the electricity and the water failed, the roughly 3.3 million people on the island struggled to find a consistent supply of water—in some areas, for months after the storm. Photo: Ricardo Arduengo /AFP/Getty Images

Oxfam in action: Responding to Hurricane María

In 2017, Hurricane María tore through Puerto Rico, knocking down its power grid—an aging system reliant on fossil fuels—and disabling water systems across the island. It was devastating for hundreds of communities in Puerto Rico.

“The floor went down the mountainside,” said Ada Santiago, recalling the tumult that swept away her home. In the weeks following the storm, millions of people like her were left without power or reliable access to potable water. Santiago said she longed more than anything for running water so she could “hose things down and clean up a bit.”

In response to the disaster, Oxfam helped provide essential goods and supported the work of the Foundation for Puerto Rico to help low-income elderly people meet urgent needs for food, diapers, batteries, water filters, and more. We focused on funding on-the-ground organizations, making sure local groups had the tools they needed to prepare for and be resilient to the next crisis, and we put pressure on the US government to do more to help the island.

Over the years, your support has allowed us to respond to many climate-related emergencies such as:

Holding the powerful accountable & supporting the communities they harm

When it comes to climate change, we know that the people who are impacted the most   contribute the least to the problem. In fact, an Oxfam study found that the richest one percent of the world’s population are responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as those who make up the poorest half of humanity. While people around the world face devastating consequences, the most powerful special interests that are driving the climate crisis, the fossil fuel industry, is reaping in $15 billion every year in taxpayer dollars and benefitting from their access and influence over our governments.

With your help, we call on wealthy polluters to reduce their emissions, pay their fair share of damages, and support a fair transition from fossil fuels to a cleaner energy future. We hold them accountable for their impact on the planet and push them to implement more just and sustainable practices.

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A fishing community on the shore of Lake Albert in Uganda. Recent oil finds under the lake threaten the environment of livelihoods of fishing families. Photo: Andrew Bogrand/Oxfam

Oxfam in action: Assessing the human rights impact of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline

French oil giant Total Energies is leading development of a massive pipeline extending from the shores of Lake Albert in Uganda to the northeastern coast of Tanzania. The route would run beside Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, and pass through diverse ecosystems and communities. Projects like this create significant new risks and uncertainty for those people who currently depend on the land for their livelihoods.

“I am one of the people affected by the pipeline project but what makes me worried is that they took my land but I have not yet been compensated,” says Mary, a farmer in Rakai, Uganda.

In response, Oxfam launched research in the region to assess how the pipeline would endanger local communities and continues to document the human rights implications of this major infrastructure project from the perspective of the people who will be most impacted. The research team compiled recommendations for Total and local governments on how to protect the impacted communities and environments. Even as the plans for the pipeline move forward, Oxfam remains committed to challenging any human rights violations that may arise. Research like this is integral to our ability to hold corporate polluters accountable for the harm they do.

Thousands of you have raised your voices to hold the powerful accountable for their climate impacts, and because of you, we have been able to:

Fighting for women’s rights & gender justice

A crucial part of fighting climate change is understanding who is most impacted. We know that women are among the most affected by the climate crisis—they walk far distances for water, they’re the first to go hungry, they take on the disproportionate burden of care, and, in times of crisis and insecurity, they often face increased gender-based violence—yet they’re often excluded from the conversation around climate solutions.

Oxfam believes in taking an intersectional approach to all our work and climate change is no exception. That is why we have been working with partners and researchers to understand how women and gender diverse people are impacted, ensure their inclusion in the solutions, and promote opportunities for their economic growth.

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Lilia Godoy waters the seedlings in the hydroponics nursery set up by the Quigona Hydroponically-Grown Seedlings organization in Magarao, Camarines Sur. Juanito Bantong/Oxfam

Oxfam in action: training women to learn hydroponic farming in the Philippines

In the Philippines, Oxfam worked with partners to train women like Lilia Godoy in hydroponic farming after the devastation of Typhoon Goni in 2020. Hydroponic farming is a method of farming that is more sustainable for places like the Philippines where they are often hit with monsoons.

“Our plants and produce were also affected [by Typhoon Goni],” says Godoy. “Every time there is a typhoon, recovery takes at least three months. We work hard because not to do so would mean we lose a living.”

The tragedy that hit Godoy and her village is just one example of the reality that communities all over the world are facing. Projects like this training enable women to make more income while allowing their communities to better adapt to the changing climate.

Our intersectional feminist approach to climate change includes:

What’s next for Oxfam’s climate work?

We are fighting for a planet that is safe, inhabitable, and secure for all communities, that has transitioned off of fossil fuels, and prioritized care of the earth and communities. Our vision is that in the coming years, the US government, as the largest emitter of climate-changing pollution, takes an aggressive and bold approach to tackling the climate crisis and moving towards a just energy transition.

Our current action: strengthen the National Environmental Policy Act

Right now, Oxfam is advocating for a more robust National Environmental Policy Act, also known as the “People’s Environmental Law,” a significant tool for addressing climate change in the US because it forces agencies across the federal government to consider environmental consequences of their actions. While this law is critical, NEPA has room to grow in order to truly protect communities from business interests, meet the US’ necessary contributions to the fight against climate change, and protect communities from fossil fuel development. We are asking the Biden administration to strengthen NEPA in order to put clean projects ahead of dirty projects, and people and the planet over corporate profits.

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