Red Cross urges Canadians to pre-empt catastrophic effects of climate change



    OTTAWA, April 6 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian Red Cross urges Canadians to
dramatically increase their investment in disaster preparedness to help
vulnerable communities mitigate against the consequences of global warning.
    This need has been further highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) in its report launched today.
    Published this morning in Brussels, the IPCC's report titled, Impacts,
Adaptation and Vulnerability, emphasizes that climate change will further
exacerbate extreme weather events and erratic weather patterns, leading to
more disasters that will hit marginalised communities the hardest.
    "The report confirms our worst fears - that vulnerable people, such as
the elderly, the sick and the poor are at greatest risk when it comes to
climate change," says Don Shropshire, national director of disaster management
for Canadian Red Cross. "However, its also important to emphasise that global
warming can affect entire communities. To protect against the disasters that a
changing climate will bring, there must be a massive and global commitment to
disaster preparedness and risk reduction."
    As part of the largest humanitarian organization in the world, Canadian
Red Cross is working with communities in Canada and in countries affected by
the 2004 tsunami to design disaster management plans to help ensure a stronger
resilience to withstand storms, floods and droughts. Examples include:

    
    - Building capacity in communities to prepare for and cope with disasters
    - Development of early warning systems in disaster-prone regions
    - Development of community disaster response plans
    - Rebuilding and designing communities to better withstand natural
      disasters
    - Availability of emergency funds to facilitate immediate disaster relief
    

    Developed countries are not immune to the effects of climate change.
Hurricane Katrina showed the devastation that increased ocean temperatures can
have, as did the 2003 extreme heat wave in France that killed 14,000 people in
2003. In Canada, more extreme temperatures in summer and an increase in the
severity of natural hazards such as flooding, ice storms and forest fires can
have devastating impacts.
    "Climate change is one of the major global risks of this century. It is
something that we cannot ignore nor escape from," says Shropshire. "The
international community does have an opportunity to pre-empt its impact, but
only if we act now."

    Canadian Red Cross is a member of the International Red Cross and Red
Crescent Movement, which includes the International Federation of Red Cross
and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and
185 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Our mission is to improve
the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada
and around the world.




For further information:

For further information: to arrange interviews or to get copies of
b-roll, please contact: Canadian Red Cross, National Office Media Line, (613)
740-1928


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