Tropical storms: how climate change is hurting Mozambique

Cyclone Idai has destroyed lives. Thousands are feared dead. Survivors are our 1st priority says Anabela Lemos. But then we put climate change in the dock.
  Published:  22 Mar 2019    |      2 minute read

Anabela Lemos is the director of Justiça Ambiental, Friends of the Earth's sister organisation in Mozambique.

"We've heard reports that 90% of the central port town of Beira has been destroyed.

"Although our office is in the south in the capital Maputo, we all have friends and family around Beira. So we're trying to get in touch to make sure everyone is OK.

"The most urgent priority is to deal with the immediate crisis. There are stories of people stranded on roofs, or without water or food following this tropical cyclone.

A view from above of Beira, Mozambique, under water after being hit by Cyclone Idai
Beira, Mozambique, under water after being hit by Cyclone Idai
Credit: Friends of the Earth International

"We're doing everything we can to help them. Many of the roads and bridges connecting the country have been destroyed. So we've been involved in organising a boat from the port of Maputo to travel by sea carrying supplies of blankets, rice and sugar.

Climate justice

"However, when things have settled down and everyone is safe, we need to make sure that everyone understands that this is linked to climate change.

"If we all fail to make polluting nations realise what the drivers of this crisis are, we're doing an injustice to everyone who's died. We're doing an injustice to everyone who is going to die in the future.

The message is clear. The rich, developed countries have created this crisis. The people of Mozambique are not to blame.

"We know we are on the frontline of climate breakdown. The poor and the most vulnerable will always be the ones to suffer from climate-related disasters. This is happening right now in Mozambique.

"Right now we need your solidarity and your help to support everyone who is in crisis.

"But this is only going to get worse in future years.

A close of photo of a cyclone
Cyclone Idai over the eastern coast of Mozambique
Credit: NASA

Climate change is everyone's problem

"We are calling on the governments of western nations, and especially the UK, to stop funding fossil fuel extraction.

"UK businesses are interested in huge natural gas deposits in northern Mozambique. And we heard just a few days after the cyclone hit that the UK has approved a new coal mine in Cumbria.

"People in Mozambique know this is climate chaos. They know what's going on. They are going to come and challenge everyone in northern countries and ask - why are you continuing to do this to us?

"Please don't do this. Stop investing in fossil fuels in your own country, and in ours. This is absolute madness."

Justiça Ambiental is a member of Friends of the Earth International the world's biggest network of grassroots environmental activists.