Climate Change and Poverty
Climate change and global poverty must be combated simultaneously. 75% of the world’s poor live in rural areas and largely depend on natural resources for their livelihoods and income. They suffer the most from natural disasters due to poor infrastructure and systems that are not equipped to deal with the drastic impact of major catastrophes such as the 2004 tsunami or Haiti earthquake.
Climate change poses risks for the fundamental requirements for health and wellbeing. Diarrhoeal diseases, malnutrition, malaria and dengue already kill millions of people each year, and are expected to worsen as a result of climate change. Floods contaminate drinking water, heighten the risk of water-borne diseases, and are breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes. Droughts affect agricultural production, reducing food security and increasing malnutrition. There is growing concern that the effects of climate change will incite social tension and conflict as communities compete for scarce resources and are displaced as a result of rising sea levels and climate-related disasters.
Mitigating climate change through global initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assisting communities to adapt to current and future climate change risks are two key challenges. This will require stronger commitment from governments and industry to reduce emissions and environmental degradation; further investment in sustainable development and low-carbon technologies; and development planning that takes future climate-related risks into account.
The 1987 Montreal Protocol resulted in the phasing out of 98 per cent of ozone-depleting substances by 2008. Recent climate negotiations resulted in the commitment to establish a Green Climate Fund to assist developing countries to confront climate-change impacts and promote low-carbon development. It also increased hope for a future global binding agreement on climate change.