Today is my fourth day in Copenhagen and I have been kept busy telling the story of how my country, Bangladesh, is affected by climate change to thousands and thousands of people.
It is freezing outside and I have never felt so cold, although I am so excited about seeing it snow for the first time, I can’t wait to tell Rahik!
Rahik is my son and I am missing him so much. He is 5 years old today and will be spending his birthday with his father and his grandparents.
I talked to him a few moments ago and he was just off to bed, sleepy but happy. I have taught him to count down the days until I am home, but he still expects me to walk through the door every night before he goes to bed. He is too young to understand the importance of these talks, despite the huge impact they will have on his life.
For him, I am hopeful of a bright future. I don’t mind what he does as long as he is successful and happy. But I also fear what the future will bring for him.
We are facing many problems in the coastal region of Bangladesh where both he and I grew up and I am frightened he will not be able to stay there when he is older. My child and many other children of the region are getting sick as there have been sharp changes in the seasons in recent years and more extreme temperatures. Others are dying.
In 2007 Cyclone Sidr hit and a fisherman in my community lost his two daughters who were 2 and 5 years old. He only survived himself by hanging onto a branch of a tree for 3 days. We have always had cyclones, but climate change makes them much more frequent.
The talks so far have not filled me with hope that the people of Bangladesh will get the deal they need and deserve. There is a big split, as one party wants to continue the Kyoto Protocol, and the other party want to abandon it in favour of a new deal.
But I fear this new deal will not be our deal, it will be a deal suited to rich nations with lower emissions targets that will lead to even greater problems for the people of Bangladesh. Today African countries refused to participate any longer whilst rich countries continue to safeguard their own interests. The negotiations are divided and we cannot see a way through.
But yesterday I met UN climate chief Yvo de Boer (pictured above) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Archbishop Tutu’s speech filled me with amazement and hope because he summed up why we are all here in Copenhagen: to get justice for people living in poverty. I got to share the experience of our vulnerable community with thousands of people who really do care and it was inspiring to see so many faces in the crowd.
This week is our greatest chance to get a global deal and leaders need to start listening to the demands of poor vulnerable countries. The campaigners here with CAFOD this weekend really showed their commitment to climate justice, where is that of the leaders?
As I keep up the fight for the people of Bangladesh to get justice, I know I will have their solidarity and compassion, standing right beside me, and it gives me courage to go on.
Posted by Umme Kulsum, from CAFOD partner Prodipan in Bangladesh