No end to poverty without climate action

climate for development“Climate change is rapidly becoming the greatest threat to poverty eradication” according to a new report. It’s from a coalition of NGOs that includes environmental groups such as WWF and Greenpeace, alongside those better known for their campaigning on poverty, such as Practical Action, Christian Aid and Oxfam. The UN is in the process of negotiating a new set of targets to replace the Millennium Development Goals. But the report warns that without robust action on climate change, the rest of the goals could well be unachievable. One of the most immediate risks is extreme weather, which damages crops, pushing up food prices and increasing the number of people going hungry. That could scupper any development goals around hunger, food security and nutrition. Malnutrition then undermines goals on health and wellbeing. A changing climate would also affect water security and any deterioration in access to the basics of food and water would push inequality goals out of reach too. It isn’t just a problem for subsistence farmers either. Extreme weather can wreak havoc on poorer urban communities, disrupting fragile water and sanitation systems. People could lose their homes or businesses, with no insurance or social safety net to get them back on their feet. In all these situations, climate change works as a ‘threat multiplier’. Where people are already vulnerable, climate change makes it more likely that disaster will strike. This new climate reality makes adaptation a key development priority. It also highlights the importance of win-win development strategies. Renewable energy is one of them, as electricity brings major benefits to people while reducing emissions and pollution from dirtier traditional fuels. The matter of climate justice is also unavoidable here. “The push for economic growth without recognising planetary limits and social impacts is a key underlying cause of rising emissions” the report recognises. As I wrote about last week, ongoing economic growth in rich countries is a non-negotiable by those in power. But if growth in rich countries undermines growth in poor countries, where it is much more urgently needed, then we have a massive injustice on our hands.

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7 Comments on “No end to poverty without climate action”

  1. Andy Kingston-Smith September 30, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    Greta post, Jeremy! Hope you might make it to the Redcliife Environment Day conference on 7th March 2015 which is looking at climate change: adaptation and mitigation – see

  2. John McKeown September 30, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    Yes – and women’s empowerment is another win-win for Development Goals.

  3. Simon Snell October 1, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    Hi. Christian Aid is encouraging churches to take action and prayer on the weekend of the 18/19 October across the country. Please find out more about this weekend of Hunger for Justice here:-

    Events which are already registered, including visiting speakers from countries affected by climate change are listed here:-

    Please email your MP now to call them to take more action!

  4. jeffmowatt October 4, 2014 at 2:36 am #

    It was at the international conference on Economics for Ecology 5 years ago that we pointed out that it was no longer alarmist to suggest that we were at risk of self destruction. We all get to invent whatever economics systen that comes next, or so we beileved at the time.


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    […] little wonder that poverty NGOs are now some of the loudest voices on climate change, and are allied with environmental groups. It’s increasingly clear that climate change is so much more than an environmental issue, and […]

  2. How much growth do the poorest get? | Make Wealth History - February 4, 2015

    […] At that point, the ongoing losses from climate change may erode the gains from growth, effectively bringing development to a grinding halt. […]

  3. The Millennium Development Goals’ final report | Make Wealth History - July 9, 2015

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