DHAKA, Bangladesh – Some 500 women rallied in Bangladesh’s capital on Thursday, demanding richer nations cut their greenhouse gas emissions and compensate the impoverished countries that experts believe will be hardest hit by the impacts of climate change.
The women, mostly rural poor, wore masks mocking leaders from wealthy nations such as France, Britain and the United States, and marched through Dhaka University’s campus carrying banners that read “Cut emissions, save poor nations” and “Stop harming, start helping.”
Organizers from the Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihood, an Oxfam-funded network of domestic labor and rights groups, said the rally was timed to send a message to delegates who will gather Dec. 1 in Poznan, Poland for a United Nations conference on climate change.
“We are here with a message that we are suffering, and our sufferings will increase manifold if rich countries do not act aggressively,” said Ahsan Uddin Ahmed, a Bangladeshi expert on climate change.
“Rich nations like the U.S. and emerging countries such as China and India must act properly,” he said. “We need development but not at the cost of our future.”
Bangladesh, a densely populated nation of 150 million people, suffers annual floods, frequent cyclones and increasing salinity in its coastal regions.
Experts say more frequent flooding due to global warming could eventually put as much as one-third of Bangladesh’s land mass permanently under water.