Briefing Statement: Damage from Cyclone Pam was exacerbated by climate change

Cyclone Pam, a category-5 storm with wind gusts reaching 300 km/h, struck Vanuatu on 13 March 2015 leaving twenty-four people dead, 100,000 people homeless and up to 70% of the nation's 69,000 households damaged. The death toll could rise as communications are restored with outlying islands. Cyclone Pam also caused significant damage to some of Vanuatu's low-lying neighbours. Half of Tuvalu's population has been displaced, while the Solomon Islands and several islands around Kiribati were affected by the huge storm.

The massive size of the storm has prompted many in the public and the media to ask the Climate Council about the influence of climate change on extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones, and the vulnerability of and impacts on Pacific communities.

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3 KEY FINDINGS:

  • The damage caused by Cyclone Pam through widespread flooding was exacerbated by climate change. Climate change is here with us today, raising the level of the ocean and increasing the devastation caused by tropical cyclones.
  • Australia’s Pacific Island neighbours are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Sea level rise, coastal inundation, ocean acidification and other impacts affect people’s health, as well as critical industries like fishing and tourism.
  • The accelerating risks of climate change require that communities prepare for more severe extreme weather now, as well as tackling the cause of the problem by rapidly reducing fossil fuel emissions.

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Below is a list of some of the organisations involved in providing humanitarian relief in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam that are accepting donations.

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