At The Wave, this was the first time I had spoken on such a big outdoor stage. I was a little nervous, but once I started speaking I was able to see the people in the crowd in front of me. They were so emotional, so excited and that really encouraged me.
When I was telling the story of Dulal, a fisherman who lost his daughters in Cyclone Sidr, people kept quiet. They were really listening. Then when I made a link to how much water people here use in their power showers, I could actually see them gasp as they related their own lives with the crisis.
I said everything from my heart, I shared my feelings about the people suffering in the communities. And I saw how much people here really want to do something. Hear the speech here.
It was amazing for me to see all the young people from different schools, all chanting slogans about climate justice. This is such a positive indication for the campaign, because these young people will be the ones who have to change their lifestyles to reduce emitting greenhouse gases.
What also struck me was how many older people there were on the march. I saw that so many older people are in favour of our demands.
In the afternoon, I went to a meeting with Ed Miliband where I asked the second question. I asked whether the $100 billion a year put forward by the UK government was enough for developing countries to adapt. How exactly will that money be provided?
I was very encouraged by his answer. He said that the funds weren’t sufficient, but would be a starting point to collect together funds needed for developing countries. And he said that the money should come as grants via the UN, not loans from the World Bank.
We are also campaigning in Bangladesh, but we are asking different things from our government. We’re asking them to make pro-poor climate change plans, which will help the communities that we work with, and to put pressure on developed countries to cut their carbon emissions.
The Copenhagen summit, will be the first of these COP meetings that I’ve attended. It was always my dream to be able to attend, and now I’m not just attending, but I have the space to be vocal and to speak. Through this there is scope for my community, for the Bangladeshi people, to say our thoughts and experiences.
I have hope, because if we act in time, it is possible to make ourselves, our homes and our livelihoods more resilient to climate change. We need long-term plans, but we also need to act now.
The treaty we need in Copenhagen must ensure that action starts now, not making money available for developing countries in two, three, five years time, but now. People are starting to suffer now. They need action now.
Posted by Umme Kulsum from CAFOD partner Prodipan in Bangladesh