Public Lecture Series : The Road to Climate Justice

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IESR, The Climate Project Indonesia (TCP), and School of Public Health of University of Indonesia organized a half-day event: “Public Lecture on Climate Change,” in conjunction with the “United Nations Day” and “The International Day of Climate Action,” organized internationally by 350.org (www.350.org). This activity is part of TCP Indonesia activity on the public lecture on Climate Change in 34 universities across Indonesia. IESR has been trying to engage wider public on climate change awareness, and this event is a part of IESR’s Climate Justice Program. This event is taken place in the auditorium of the School of Public Health, University of Indonesia on 23 October 2009.

Nadia Hadad from TCP Indonesia presented the climate change evidences and humanity challenges. Nadia, who is Indonesia Project Coordinator of Bank Information Center (BIC), is alumni of The Climate Project training. Prof. Dr. I Made Jaya, SKM from the School of Public Health of University of Indonesia made presentation on Adaptation and Mitigation of Climate Change, while Febi Dwirahmadi, an alumni of the school and associate researcher of IESR who is working on climate adaptation project for urban, presented the impact of climate change to the public health. The lecture is moderated by Dr. dr. Rahmadi Purwana, SKM, from the School of Public Health.

One of messages conveyed in this lecture, that the current carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere has reached 386 part per million (ppm) based on findings from NASA’s climate scientist (NASA 2008). This level exceeds the 350 ppm level that some scientists said about the safe upper limit to avoid catastrophic impact to the ecosystem. So far the impacts of climate change have occurred in many part of the world and are projected to worsen in the future. It contributes to the reducing number of glacier in Alaska, Argentina and also New Zealand; inducing forest fire in Riau, Indonesia and Australia, sea level rise due to ice melting, flood and drought, and other extreme weather and the extinction of wildlife.

From public health aspect, climate change has the potential to affect population health either directly or indirectly. The examples of direct impact of climate change are : climate change will increase the frequency and the intensity of climate extreme events such as heat wave or cold wave in which may result in deaths or injuries. It also has been reported that climate change will intensify the climate related natural hazards such as storms, high tidal wave, and hurricane in which may not only impact human health but also building and infrastructure. Indirectly, climate change can also impact human health.

This may happen because climate change will disturb the ecological system. This will include disease transmission and distribution, hydro-agronomical system, air pollution, water availability, and others. This for example, the global dengue fever which will increase during the La Nina phenomenon. In Indonesia dengue fever has significantly increased doubled during La Nina year in 1973, 1988, and 1998 (UNDP, 2007). Since Indonesia already experienced the impact of Climate Change, the government should design a mitigation and adaptation strategy including energy sector, land use, forest, and also ocean to reduce green house gases in atmosphere.

Further, it was explained also about the climate debt concept. Based on the historical emission, industrial countries that represent only ¼ of world population already occupied ¾ of atmosphere with their carbon emission. Meanwhile developing countries who are the majority of the world population only produce ¼ of the historical emission. Further it constitutes a term that called as “climate debt”. Industrial countries ran up debts to developing countries due to their over-using the right to emit.

IESR now is working on a campaign on climate debt and preparing to release a post card campaign to ask developed countries leader to take serious and meaningful action to cut their emission. The post-card targeted the top 5 largest emitter countries and will be sent through the embassy or representative offices in Indonesia. This is part of our effort to make industrial countries responsible to their debt. IESR has asked student to participate in this campaign and raising their voice to demand the climate justice.