Climate plans fail to consider people with disabilities

6 October 2022

According to a recent report, countries worldwide have overlooked the needs of people with disabilities when they roll out climate policies. For the oversight, people with disabilities are most vulnerable to climate disasters like hurricanes and heat waves.

The report was co-published by International Disability Alliance (IDA) and McGill University’s Disability Inclusive Climate Action Research Program.

IDA advisor Elham Youssefian said climate change has a disproportionate but avoidable impact on persons with disabilities, resulting from the systematic failure of states to engage with persons with disabilities. Moreover, those failures can be a matter of life and death.

For example, it’s difficult for people who use wheelchairs to evacuate from hurricanes and flood water to find accessible shelter. Rolling power outages during wildfires endanger people with chronic illnesses who rely upon medical devices such as respirators. Meanwhile, during a heat wave, the medication of people with schizophrenia makes them sensitive to heat.

According to the new report, most governments are overlooking this group of people entirely. The world’s mitigation plans, which address ways to reduce the risk of climate events, didn’t even mention people with disabilities.

The report’s co-author, Sébastien Jodoin, an expert on human rights, disability, and climate change, at McGill University, said people with disabilities had been systematically ignored in this regard.

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