10 years to change our ways, warns UN report
By Mark Tran
The world has less than a decade to change course to avoid irreversible ecological catastrophe, the UN warned today (27 November).
The stark warning from the UN’s Human Development report came just ahead of next month’s climate summit in Bali, Indonesia, to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto protocol.
In a repeat of previous warnings from scientific panels, the 400-page report said that simply ignoring climate change would lead to unprecedented reversal in human development in our lifetime, and acute risks for our children and their grandchildren.
The report, commissioned by the UN Development Programme, said climate change would hit the least-developed countries the hardest.
“The poorest countries and most vulnerable citizens will suffer the earliest and most damaging setbacks, even though they have contributed least to the problem,” the report says.
“Looking to the future, no country – however wealthy or powerful – will be immune to the impact of global warming.”
The panel says the greatest financial responsibility lies with the US and the other well-developed countries most responsible for the rising levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, mainly from the use of coal, oil and other fossil fuels.
As the world’s richest countries bear the greatest responsibility, the UN Development Programme called on them to bear the largest burden in cutting emissions and in providing financial aid to the poor.
Developed countries, the UN said, should cut emissions by at least 30% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050. Developing nations should cut emissions by 20% by the year 2050.
The UN said the world must spend 1.6% of global economic output each year until 2030 to stabilise carbon levels and to limit a rise in global temperature to 2C to avoid the catastrophic impact of climate change.
Without the money, the panel said, a warmer world “could stall and then reverse human development” in the countries where 2.6 billion people live on $2 (96p) a day or less.
The consequences include women and young girls having to walk further to collect water in the Horn of Africa, people erecting bamboo flood shelters on stilts in the Ganges delta, and others planting mangroves to protect themselves against storm surges in the Mekong delta.
“The world lacks neither the financial resources nor the technological capabilities to act,” the UN report said. “What is missing is a sense of urgency, human solidarity and collective interest.”
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