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Poverty cannot be tackled without fighting climate change: new report

10 September 2014 - As world leaders meet in New York later this month at a summit convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the global fight against climate change, a new report highlights the crucial role a new set of Sustainable Development Goals must play in meeting the challenge.

It says the goals, to be agreed next year, offer a vital opportunity for the international community to tackle the way that climate change is driving people into poverty. 

Written by CAFOD, CARE International, Christian Aid, Greenpeace, Practical Action and WWF-UK, it says it is now clear that without action to tackle climate change, efforts to eradicate poverty will be severely compromised.

The work is in response to the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)   - the leading authority on climate science - that warns climate change is a massive threat to poverty reduction and sustainable development.

The report, The Right Climate for Development: why the SDGs must act on climate change, says rising sea levels and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as typhoons and floods – all the result of global warming – are claiming lives, damaging and destroying homes and infrastructure, reducing crop yields, and ruining employment prospects.

These impacts will only increase, it warns, if action is not taken to cut carbon emissions and support is not given to the most vulnerable countries to adapt to the changes that they are already experiencing.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the expected successors to the Millennium Development Goals which expire at the end of 2015, must therefore include a stand-alone goal on tackling climate change.

Christian Aid Chief Executive Loretta Minghella said today: “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 blue print for low carbon development the world over, encompassing all sectors including health, agriculture, urban development, energy, water access and income generation.

'They must also address expressly the role played by unsustainable consumption patterns and production processes in richer societies that drive climate change.'

Specifically, the report says, the goals should:

  • Include a robust stand-alone goal on climate that will encourage all countries to follow a low carbon development pathway, and integrate action across all of the goals.

  • Recognise that climate change, poverty eradication and sustainable development cannot be tackled as separate issues.

  • Acknowledge that it is critical to decarbonise energy generation completely by 2050 if temperature rises are to be kept below 2oC, and that most of the infrastructure being planned today must be zero carbon to avoid locking in future emissions.

  • Recognise that increased access to sustainable, affordable, reliable and safe energy will bring multiple co-benefits that are crucial to success in several SDG goal areas including: poverty reduction, education, health, women’s empowerment and sustainable livelihoods.

Download the full report: The right climate for development: why the SDGs must act on climate change (PDF, 2mb).

 

Further information from: Cafod: Rob Elsworth (relsworth@cafod.org.uk); CARE International: Jo Barrett (jbarrett@careclimatechange.org); Christian Aid: Andrew Hogg 020 7523 2058; Practical Action: Colin McQuistan (colin.mcquistan@practicalaction.org.uk); Greenpeace:  Ruth Davis (rdavis@greenpeace.org); WWF: Dominic White (dwhite@wwf.org.uk).

 

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