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Poverty cannot be tackled without fighting climate change: new report

10 September 2014

A new report by Practical Action and partner NGOs has highlighted the crucial role a new set of Sustainable Development Goals must play in the global fight against climate change.

The report, released today (10th September 2014) spells out the links between global poverty and climate change against the backdrop of a meeting of world leaders in New York later this month at a summit convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

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. 

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 2°C, 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.

Written by Practical Action, CAFOD, CARE International, Christian Aid, Greenpeace 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 Right Climate for Development: why the SDGs must act on climate change

This briefing outlines the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Review (AR5) that climate change is already affecting poverty reduction and sustainable development. If action is not taken to cut emissions and to support communities to adapt to the changes that they are already experiencing, its impacts will only increase.

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: “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 2°C.

“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.”

The Right Climate for Development: why the SDGs must act on climate change

This briefing outlines the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Review (AR5) that climate change is already affecting poverty reduction and sustainable development. If action is not taken to cut emissions and to support communities to adapt to the changes that they are already experiencing, its impacts will only increase.

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For all media enquiries, please contact Andy Heath or Abbie Wells, Practical Action Press & Media Officers.

Email: andrew.heath@practicalaction.org.uk
UK office hours: + 44 (0) 1926 634 552
Mobile: +44 (0) 7880 671 315

Email: abbie.wells@practicalaction.org.uk
UK office hours: + 44 (0) 1926 634 510
Mobile: +44 (0) 7880 671 315

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