Climate Change and the Developing World
Climate Change Bill
Last year, 27th November 2008, saw the passing of the Climate Change Bill in the UK which aimed to see significant cuts in the UK CO2 emissions in order to tackle climate change. There were three main points in this bill. Firstly to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050, this is the level that scientists believe is required if we are to see a turn in the tide of the current climate change. Secondly the bill included changes that mean that international aviation and shipping – that fastest growing source of emissions – emissions are now included in the targets. Finally, the bill also laid out that there be annual budgets for spending on carbon in order that the emission cuts could be more measurable and kept on top of.
Climate effects on the poor
Climate change is something that is talked about mostly in the context of the developed world. This is because most of the contribution and consequently, the ability to reduce, climate change is from the western world. However, the other side to the story is that it is the developing world that, despite contributing very little, is bearing the brunt of climate change.
The main reasons for this unbalanced impact are because people living in poorer areas of the world are more likely to live in fragile housing, to rely on agriculture for a lot of their income and have no back up of insurance or savings in the event of disaster. All of these factors make them very susceptible to changes in climate.
Every year, 150,000 people die from health-related effects of climate change. For example, crops can be ruined by drought or flooding from heavy rain or rising sea levels and this can mean significant food shortages which means loss of livelihood and malnutrition. This often leads to people being forced to leave their homes in order to find food and shelter elsewhere; by 2050 there will be an estimated 150 million refugees due to this.
A further significant effect is that the spreading of floodwater and changing weather mean that malaria carrying mosquitoes are spreading to highland areas that were previously unpopulated by them. Malaria is one of the biggest causes of death in the developing world especially in children, with much of the control of disease being focused on elimination of the vector mosquitoes. This spread caused by climate change is undoing much of this.
Gordon Brown, Prime Minister in the UK, said in June, that $100 billion needed to be contributed to poorer nations by developed countries in order to help them cope with climate change. As of yet, it is unclear exactly where this money will come from.
Copenhagen, December 2009
UN climate talks are scheduled to take place in Copenhagen this December as part of the process of ensuring that countries are all involved in sticking to aims of keeping the rise in temperature to 2 degrees above their pre-industrial levels. Current worries leading up to these talks are that mistrust between rich and poor countries, and the distraction of the recession might prevent any effective discussions. Countries including China and India are arguing that their emissions per capita are much lower and so they are reluctant to move to reduce their emissions.
Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has said that it is important that the developing countries also partake in the reduction of emissions because although their contribution is currently significantly less, 90% of the growth in emissions is coming from them. This means it is more important that they show that they will slow the growth of the emissions rather than actually reduce them at this stage.
The World Bank
Unfortunately, a controversial contribution of the World Bank to developing countries has just been uncovered. The World Bank, who is funded by developed countries including the UK, has a goal of reducing poverty and is spending billions of pounds helping developing countries to build new coal-fired power stations. The World Bank has made several statements regarding it’s stance in trying to reduce emissions and protecting the developing world who are worst effected by climate change. Critics say that by giving this money to build new power stations they are not acting in the long term interests of the poor and that this money should instead be given to supporting renewable energy.
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