Mitigating the effects of global climate change will require an integrated approach, says the UN Development Program’s (UNDP) new report, Human Development Report 2007/2008
, which focuses on the human dimensions of a warming planet and highlights the challenges vulnerable populations face in adapting to climatic shifts.
According to the report:
Violent conflicts, insufficient resources, lack of coordination and weak policies continue to slow down development progress, particularly in Africa. Nonetheless in many countries there have been real advances…This development progress is increasingly going to be hindered by climate change. So we must see the fight against poverty and the fight against the effects of climate change as interrelated efforts. They must reinforce each other and success must be achieved on both fronts jointly.This report has abundant company: In the last year, studies highlighting the climate-security nexus have been published by the CNA Corporation, the Center for a New American Security, the UN Development Program, and International Alert. These studies advocate bold new policies, enumerate the short-term and long-term costs of inaction, and connect climate change to other salient issues, such as security and poverty.
It is becoming impossible to ignore the growing body of scientific evidence and chorus of voices advocating immediate action on climate change. But global leaders have not reached consensus on the issue, due in large part to the U.S. government’s objections to binding emissions limits. The next UN climate change conference meets in Bali next month, but major revelations and ambitious new policies are unlikely. Although the U.S. government has begun to shift its rhetoric, few expect it to change its policies soon.
According to the UNDP report, developed nations account for 15 percent of the global population, but nearly half of global CO2 emissions. If greenhouse gas emissions are not cut by at least 30 percent in the next 15 years, the UNDP projects the Earth’s average temperature will increase by as much as two degrees Celsius. These projections have sobering consequences, especially in developing nations, where climate change “will undermine efforts to build a more inclusive pattern of globalization, reinforcing the vast disparities between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.”