Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world
LILONGWE, 30th November 2007- Nearly 550 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to energy. Families are left in the dark to cook with vegetation and animal dung over smoky stone fires, while their rich counterparts in developed countries run up the energy bills. Respiratory disease, in part caused by breathing in such smoky fumes, is the biggest killer of children in the world today, says the 2007 Human Development Report (HDR).
The report entitled Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world, says the world is drifting towards a “tipping point” that could lock the world’s poorest countries and their poorest citizens in a downward spiral, leaving hundreds of millions facing malnutrition, water scarcity, ecological threats and a loss of livelihoods.
The 2007 HDR also declares that the world should focus on the development impact of climate change that could bring unprecedented reversals in poverty reduction, nutrition, health and education.
“Ultimately, climate change is a threat to humanity as a whole. But it is the poor, a constituency with no responsibility for the ecological debt we are running up, who face the immediate and most severe human costs,” commented UNDP Administrator Kemal Derviş.
The report comes at a key moment in negotiations to forge a multilateral agreement for the period after 2012—the expiry date for the current commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. It calls for a “twin track” approach that combines stringent mitigation to limit 21st Century warming to less than 2°C (3.6°F), with strengthened international cooperation on adaptation.
On mitigation, the authors of the HDR call on developed countries to demonstrate leadership by cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. The report advocates a mix of carbon taxation, more stringent cap-and-trade programmes, energy regulation, and international cooperation on financing for low-carbon technology transfer.
Turning to adaptation, the report warns that inequalities in the ability to cope with climate change are emerging as an increasingly powerful driver of wider inequalities between and within countries. It calls on rich countries to put climate change adaptation at the centre of international partnerships on poverty reduction.
“We are issuing a call to action, not providing a counsel of despair,” commented lead author Kevin Watkins, adding, “Working together with resolve, we can win the battle against climate change. Allowing the window of opportunity to close would represent a moral and political failure without precedent in human history.”
Building on the recently-released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synthesis Report, the HDR also sets out a pathway for climate change negotiations to take place in Bali, Indonesia, from 3 to 14 December 2007. The Bali conference is a unique opportunity to put the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people at the center of the fight against climate change.
The HDR stresses that a narrow 10-year window of opportunity remains to put it into practice. If that window is missed, temperature rises of above two degrees Celsius could see an extra 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa go hungry, new and more frequent epidemics of mosquito-born diseases like Rift Valley Fever and malaria and agricultural losses of up to US$26 billion by 2060 in the region, a figure higher than total bilateral aid received by sub-Saharan Africa in 2005.
Malawi is scheduled to launch the Human Development Report in January, 2007 in Lilongwe. The report will focus on implications of climate change to the country and what is being done to arrest this.
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ABOUT THIS REPORT: The Human Development Report continues to frame debates on some of the most pressing
challenges facing humanity. It is an independent report commissioned by the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP). Kevin Watkins is the Lead Author of the 2007/2008 report, which includes special contributions
from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Mayor of the City of New
York Michael R. Bloomberg, Advocate for Arctic climate change Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Chair of the World
Commission on Sustainable Development and former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland, Archbishop
Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu, and the Director of the Centre for Science and Environment Sunita Narain.
The Report is translated into more than a dozen languages and launched in more than 100 countries annually. Further
information can be found at http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2007-2008/. The 2007/2008 Human
Development Report is published in English by Palgrave Macmillan.
ABOUT UNDP: UNDP is the UN's global network to help people meet their development needs and build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working as a trusted partner with governments, civil society and the private sector to help them build their own solutions to global and national development challenges. Further information can be found at www.undp.org