Global warming will undermine the efforts of environment and development charities

A new coalition of NGOs has warned that global warning threatens to reverse human progress and make the Millennium Development Goals, of halving global poverty by 2015, unattainable.

Its report, Up in Smoke, highlights the joint concerns that both environmental and development charities have about the serious impact that global warming is already having on some of the world's poorest communities.

The coalition - The Working Group on Climate Change and Development - including NGOs such as WWF, Greenpeace and Christian Aid, say they are pledging to play their part in trying to halt the climate change and bring about a global solution that is fair and rooted in human equality. It calls on the international community to take urgent action to introduce:

  • a global risk assessment of the likely costs of adaptation to climate change in poor countries;
  • cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by industrialised countries in the order of 60 - 80% (relative to 1990 levels) by the middle of this century, far beyond the levels required by the Kyoto Protocol;
  • commensurate new funds and other resources made available by industrialised countries for poor country adaptation. The coalition says that rich country subsidies to their own domestic fossil fuel industries stood at about US$73 billion per year in the late 1990's;
  • effective and efficient arrangements to respond to the increasing burden of climate related disaster relief;
  • development models based on risk reduction and incorporating community driven coping strategies in adaptation and disaster preparedness;
  • small scale renewable energy projects promoted by governments and community groups which can help to both tackle poverty and reduce climate change if they are replicated and scaled up. This will require political commitment and new funds from governments in all countries, and a major shift in priorities by the World Bank and other development bodies;
  • co-ordinated plans, from local to international levels, for relocating threatened communities with appropriate political, legal and financial resources.
Dr. R K Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), who wrote the report's forward, said: "I am happy to see a document of this nature being released to the public, given the enormous importance of climate change and its influence on all forms of life on this planet. Most notable as a major issue of concern is the nexus between climate change and the widespread prevalence of poverty in the world."

He quotes the Third Assessment Report of the IPPC which states: "The impacts of climate change will fall disproportionately upon developing countries and the poor persons within all countries, thereby exacerbating inequities in health status and access to adequate food, clean water and other resources."

Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he will use the UK presidency of the G8 in 2005 to bring climate change and Africa, which contains a majority of the world's poorest countries, to the top of the international political agenda.

The coalition welcome his approach and warn that an either/or approach to climate change and poverty reduction is not an option - the world must face up to the inseparable challenges of poverty and a rapidly warming global climate.

The report was organised by the New Economics Foundation.



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