The Climate Tribunal was held in Dhaka on Monday, 8 November where Rushanara Ali was present as a distinguished observer. The tribunal explored the idea that industrialised countries, as the largest carbon emitters, should be bound by international law to protect the lives and livelihoods of those most at risk from the impacts of climate change. The mock tribunal was organised by Oxfam’s Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL).
The Labour Party MP was amongst 1,200 observers from around the world, including lawyers, politicians and economists, who heard testimonies from people affected by climate change. These included widows who have lost their husbands to rougher seas and fishermen whose boats were capsized in the increasingly stormy weather and spent years in prison for drifting into foreign waters.
Barek Majhi, a fisherman of 22 years, told onlookers at the tribunal how climate change has made the seas rougher, which in turn have sunk his three fishing trawlers and ruined his means of making a living. He doesn’t want his children to follow him into fishing. He said: "My grandfather was a fisherman, so was my father. I also followed him, but this tradition ends here. I don’t want my children to become fishermen. And the reality is my children have started disliking this profession. They’d rather work in the garment factory."
Rushanara earlier told press in Dhaka that the world’s most powerful nations must take action to promote sustainable development and fight against climate change, with nations like Bangladesh, where she was born, already suffering the impact of global warming. She said that “climate change cannot fall off the international agenda” due to the global economic recession and promised the gathered press that she would try her utmost to ensure that climate change continues to be a priority for the British coalition government.
Rushanara Ali praised Oxfam’s innovation and the manner in which the charity is “leading the way on climate change”.
‘Following the unsuccessful climate negotiations in Copenhagen last year, the time has now come to explore the prospect of litigation to protect the most vulnerable countries like Bangladesh from climate change,” said Ziaul Hoque Mukta, Policy and Advocacy Manager for Oxfam in Bangladesh.
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