UN Climate Panel: Poor Will Suffer More from Climate Change

bangladesh flooding 1

bangladesh flooding 1 (Photo credit: Peter Casier)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN panel, met in Japan earlier this week and released the second of three parts of a report to be published this year on the effects of climate change. The report attempts to discover the affects of climate change on human society in the coming decades. After September’s section of the report found climate change to be “the greatest challenge of our time,” what additional findings would the second part of the report offer?

The report found that unless we act to reduce carbon emissions now, the problems brought on by climate change will grow increasingly worse. Of particular note was the threat that climate change poses to global food security and production, especially staples in the world’s poorest regions. At the time of their last report in 2007, the UN panel was unsure of whether climate change would have an impact (positive or negative) on food production. But, in recent years, there has been an overwhelming amount of evidence that climate change will threaten food production and security.

The report also finds that even though poor regions have contributed the least to climate change, they will suffer the most. Scientists on the panel cited a World Bank estimate that poor countries may need as much as $1 billion a year to combat climate change, a staggering amount. Yet Western countries have shown resistance to pay for this, despite being almost wholly to blame for the results, as former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams stated before the report came out.

While the panel found that climate change would “exacerbate poverty” in poor countries and “create new poverty pockets in countries with increasing inequality,” like the US, the rich would not escape the consequences. With increasing natural disasters, lead author Dr Saleemul Huq said, “These are multibillion dollar events that the rich are going to have to pay for, and there’s a limit to what they can pay.”

Solar panels in Uttaranchal

Solar panels in Uttaranchal (Photo credit: Barefoot Photographers of Tilonia)

It was not all doom and gloom at the panel, as part of their report included the innovative ways in which some nations are adapting to fight climate change and mitigate its affects. Bangladesh, one of the poorest nations in Asia, is working to reduce risk of flooding by building shelters and capturing silt to raise ground levels. India, the world’s 4th biggest energy consumer and 3rd largest carbon emitter, is doubling its solar power efforts and setting the goal of 15% renewables by 2020. China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, has also made great strides in reducing its contribution to global warming.

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James McComas

I bring a background in researching and writing to the Campaign Consultation team for my role as Administrative and Project Assistant. Prior to joining Campaign Consultation, I was a research intern for BUS 52, a year-long project which sought out organizations and individuals across the continental United States who worked to positively change their communities in innovative ways. I also assisted a journalist researching climate change issues. Read more.

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