Global warming a bigger threat to poor

Posted: 20 October 2004

Global warming threatens to reverse human progress, and make unachievable all UN targets to reduce poverty, according to some of the world's leading international and development groups.

In a report published today, Oxfam, Greenpeace, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, WWF and 15 other groups say rich governments must immediately address climate change to avoid even "obscene levels" of worldwide poverty.

"Food production, water supplies, public health and people's livelihoods are already being damaged and undermined," the report says. "There is no either/or approach possible. The world must meet its commitments to achieve poverty reduction and also tackle climate change. The two are inextricably linked."

Impact on poor

The report, which draws on UN predictions of the effects of climate change in poor countries over the next 50 years, says poor countries will experience more flooding, declining food production, more disease and the deterioration or extinction of entire ecosystems on which many of the world's poorest people depend.

"Climate change needs to be addressed now. The poor will bear the brunt of the impacts. The frontline experience of many of us working in international development indicates that communities are having to combat more extreme weather conditions."

Climate change will play havoc with agriculture and water supplies and will increase diseases. "By 2025 the proportion of the world's population living in countries of significant water stress will almost double, to 6 billion people. Tropical and sub-tropical areas will be hardest hit - those countries already suffering from food insecurity".

Poor communities mostly do not need hi-tech solutions, but would most benefit from education, research and being shown how to farm better. The report says unchecked global warming, more than wars or political upheaval, will displace millions of people and destabilise many countries.

John Vidal is a science and environment correspondent for The Guardian.

logo Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004 . This article was first published by The Guardian, (Wednesday, 20th October, 2004). All rights reserved. Reproduced with kind permission.

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