Thursday, March 25, 2010

Climate Change and Poverty [Neha]

Chances are, if you're reading this, you're a part of a minority in the world. You have so much access to resources that you are pretty well insulated against the immediate impacts of climate change. But in the front lines and at greatest risk are poor people, particularly in developing countries.

"Developing countries, and the poorest people who live in them, are the most vulnerable to climate change. Yet it is also they who are most in need of expanded energy services to meet their growth and development needs. UNDP is working across the world to help developing countries build the capacity needed both to adapt to the impacts of climate change and dramatically expand the reach of affordable, improved energy services to the 2 billion people who currently go without. As global citizens we cannot afford to wait to address these urgent issues."

Climate change is a significant threat to poverty reduction efforts. The UNDP, in collaboration with other agencies, wrote and published this paper to "explore and summarize the current state of knowledge on adaptation to climate change and the need for its integration into poverty eradication and sustainable development efforts."

Recently, I heard that some experts believe that it is necessary for developing countries to continue burning through their supply of fossil fuels, that it is unfair to ask poor countries to adopt practices that slow climate change because these are expensive, both financially and in terms of infrastructure. So should developing countries be "encouraged" by the rest of the world adopt these practices? Are they entitled to financial aid from the international community? Is climate change even a legitimate focus while we're working on reducing poverty, or vice versa?

The only thing that seems clear to me is that this debate is knotty, at best. But I was impressed by the clarity of the writing in the UNDP paper--it is so well organized that you get a macro-look at the paper just from the table of contents, and then a deeper look in the executive summary, all before you even read that actual body of the paper.

What are your thoughts--on either the writing of the paper, or issues raised therein?



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