Climate Change Will Force Billions More Into Poverty, Warns UN

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Common Dreams

Climate Change Will Force Billions More Into Poverty, Warns UN

Global South getting 'raw deal' from 'monster child' of industrialization: climate change

by
Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Global Day of Action Climate March, December 3rdh 2011, UN climate summit 2011 in Durban, South Africa. (Ainhoa Goma / Oxfam International via Flick r/ Creative Commons License)

A lack of action against climate change will force up to three billion people into extreme poverty by 2050, according to the United Nations 2013 Human Development Report, released Thursday.

Unless actions are taken to avert climate change by a coordinated global community, the report argues, extreme weather, environmental disasters, deforestation, and air and water pollution could halt or reverse any progress made in recent years to lift people in the world's poorest communities out of poverty.

According to the report:

Environmental threats are among the most grave impediments to lifting human development … The longer action is delayed, the higher the cost will be.

Environmental inaction, especially regarding climate change, has the potential to halt or even reverse human development progress. The number of people in extreme poverty could increase by up to 3 billion by 2050 unless environmental disasters are averted by co-ordinated global action.

Far more attention needs to be paid to the impact human beings are having on the environment … Climate change is already exacerbating chronic environmental threats, and ecosystem losses are constraining livelihood opportunities, especially for poor people. A clean and safe environment should be seen as a right, not a privilege

The rise of the South and its potential for accelerating progress for future generations should be seen as beneficial for all countries and regions, as living standards improve and the world as a whole becomes ever more deeply interdependent.

Susan Cavanagh, media director at Greenpeace USA, responded to the report's findings by writing:

When it comes to political action on climate change, it’s the richest nations in the North that demand developing nations also act, which seems fair at first glance.

But it’s the rich nations of the North that reaped the benefits of industrialization leaving the rest of the world in an economic backwater. And it’s the polluting gases from that industrialization that’s driving the climate change now reigning down on the developing nations in the global South. [...]

It’s a cruel irony that now that those developing nations have raised their economic game to claw back some of the gains made by the North, the impact of climate change from industrialization should be visited upon them most. [...]

So the global South got a raw deal from industrialization and now it’s happening again from industrialization's monster child, climate change.

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