Eradicating poverty impossible without tackling climate change, says report

eradicating poverty

NGOs warns that failing to address climate change will leave millions of people trapped in poverty. Creative Commons: 2008

Overcoming poverty will be impossible if governments fail to tackle climate change, according to a new report from leading environment and development charities.

As world leaders get ready to meet in New York for the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit later this month, a new report from NGOs warns climate change is rapidly becoming the greatest threat to those in poverty and is a major obstacle to poverty eradication.

Written by CAFOD, CARE International, Christian Aid, Greenpeace, Practical Action and WWF-UK the report highlights the crucial role a new set of Sustainable Development Goals must play in meeting the climate challenge.

As, Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, says: “if we don’t confront climate change, we won’t end poverty.”

Loretta Minghella, Christian Aid Chief Executive said:

It is poor and marginalised people who are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change, suffering the loss of their homes, jobs, crops – and even lives. Developing countries must not be deprived of the opportunity of progress. Instead, the goals must signpost how that can be achieved without making climate change worse. Crucial to this is supporting the changes to energy and other key sectors to keep temperature rises below 2oC.

The goals must be a blueprint for low carbon development the world over, encompassing all sectors including health, agriculture, urban development, energy, water access and income generation.

Today’s report is a response to the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which showed that  climate change is one of the biggest obstacles for eradicating poverty and implementing sustainable development.

The IPCC also warned that climate change is a ‘threat multiplier’, having the most disastrous effects on those who are already vulnerable, especially the poorest sections of society.

Rising sea levels and extreme weather events, caused by global warming, will continue the cycle of poverty by destroying homes and property, seriously damaging crop yields, creating disease and displacement, and even taking lives.

By 2050, 58 million people in India and Indonesia alone be at risk from flooding as a direct result of climate change.

If climate change is not addressed, overcoming poverty will be less likely and NGOs are calling for the Sustainable Development Goals – the expected successors to the Millenium Development Goals in 2015 – to include a stand alone goal on tackling climate change.

The report also lays out a number of asks to world leaders, including adopting a low carbon development pathway, decarbonising the energy system by 2050, and ensuring global temperatures do not  rise more than 2C – the threshold at which scientists warns dangerous climate impacts will be unavoidable.

The report comes at a crucial moment for the climate movement. This month world leaders will meet in New York to discuss climate change for the first time since the 2009 Copenhagen UN climate summit.

And deadlines for both climate change and poverty eradication are fast approaching.

The next set of SDGs will be agreed on in September 2015, while a new global climate treaty is expected to be agreed in December 2015.

It is clear that the next 14 months will be a crucial opportunity to ensure that climate change is a top priority in both of these frameworks.

If climate change is not prioritised, it is likely that the next SDGs will also fail to meet their target.

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