I have just concluded a solidarity visit to Mozambique where I heard extremely moving firsthand accounts from men, women and children in Beira whose lives were upended by Cyclone Idai, one of two back-to-back extreme weather disasters that hit the country earlier this year.
Cyclones Kenneth and Idai spared no one and nothing. Nearly 650 people lost their lives, and more than 160,000 were displaced. Those who survived lost their homes, their belongings, their livelihoods. Schools, hospitals, and infrastructure were wiped out and hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland flooded.
But I saw far more than destruction today. I saw enormous courage and resilience in the people I met. I witnessed so many dedicated children learning in classes without roofs, determined women farming without tools or much land, and men rebuilding homes for their families.
I listened to their stories and their struggles as they begin the hard work of rebuilding their country and their lives. They cannot do it alone. The UN is committed to staying and delivering for people, but we need much more support from the international community.
The people of Beira who I saw today have much in common with those I recently met in St. Lucia in the Caribbean or Tuvalu in the Pacific. They are all on the front lines of the world’s climate emergency. They have done little to contribute to the climate crisis, yet they are often its first victims.
This is why we need courageous political leadership, coupled with bold climate action for transformational change. My message is clear: shift taxes from people to pollution; stop using taxpayer money to subsidize fossil fuels; and stop building new coal power plants by 2020.
The people of Beira have a right to expect strong solidarity and tangible support from the international community, especially from those who contribute the most to the causes of our changing climate. It is not only the future of far-away places that is in peril, it is our entire planet.