Tackling Poverty and Climate Change must go hand in hand

Saturday 2 July 2005 Media Advisory Friends of the Earth International Edinburgh/ London (UK), July 2, 2005 — Unless urgent action is taken to combat climate change at next week’s G8 summit, the consequences for Africa and the world’s poorest nations could be dire, Friends of the Earth International warned today. The call comes as people gather for Live 8 and the Make Poverty History rally in Edinburgh [1]. The impacts of climate change will be most severe in developing countries lacking the resources to respond. Yet climate change is mainly the result of the use of oil, gas and coal in rich nations. If the G8 is to effectively tackle poverty, it must also take urgent action to combat the threat of climate change. Meena Raman, the chair of Friends of the Earth International, will be speaking at the Make Poverty History rally in Edinburgh today (Saturday). She will say: “Unchecked, climate change will impact most severely on the world’s poorest people. Africa , with its dependence on rain-fed agriculture is particularly vulnerable to drought. Just eight countries – the G8 – account for 45 per cent of the emissions causing climate change, yet have only 13% of the world’s people: that’s climate injustice. “Delivering climate justice is essential to ending poverty. Climate chaos will make even meeting the Millennium Development Goals impossible – never mind exceeding them. That is why moves to tackle climate change are so desperately needed at this G8 summit”. Earlier this month a coalition of aid and environment groups published a report called Africa : Up in Smoke? [2] which detailed the impact that climate change is already having on Africa and the threat it poses to human development. The report warned that unless global warming is tackled future generations in the world’s poorest nations would have to face the consequences [3]. G8 countries are responsible for 65 per cent of historical global emissions. These countries must take action to redress the balance by making significant cuts in their current greenhouse gas emissions. The United States is the world’s biggest polluter (four per cent of the world’s population; a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions), but the Bush administration has so far refused to take any meaningful action to tackle climate change. Indeed the administration has even cast doubt that climate change is happening and has tried to scupper international agreements on reducing emissions. Friends of the Earth International vice chair Tony Juniper, said: “Ending poverty is a crucial campaign. Pressure must also be intensified on G8 leaders to take urgent action on climate change too. Unless the world reduces its emissions of greenhouse gases the impacts on the environment and people across the planet will be severe, with the biggest effects felt by the poorest countries. Unless the rich nations of the world wake up to the threat of climate change, the planet faces a grim future.” Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Chief Executive Duncan McLaren, said: “We hope the G8 visit to Scotland will result in something meaningful on ending global poverty and delivering climate justice. The impacts of climate change will be most severe in those countries lacking the resources to respond. Today’s rally in Edinburgh is the start of week of activities in Scotland that we hope will drive home the message to the G8 leaders that it is their moral responsibility to cut emissions and take the lead in ending poverty.” Friends of the Earth wants to see commitments from the G8 leaders in the following areas: Global average temperatures must not be allowed to rise by more than two degree centigrade than pre-industrial levels. An agreement by G8 nations for specific, substantial and timetabled cuts in their domestic emissions of greenhouse gases. An agreement that offers innovative and substantial financing mechanisms to increase and diversify the energy mix. This must include more renewable energy and greater efforts towards energy efficiency. Urgent assistance is needed for those developing countries already facing the devastating effects of climate change. A Friends of the Earth briefing on G8 and climate change with found background, demands, and events is online at https://www.foei.org/media/2005/0622.html

For more information  contact:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 In Edinburgh : Helen Burley, Press Officer, + 44 (0) 7778 069 930 (m) Lang Banks, Press Officer, + 44 (0)131 554 9977/ + 44 (0) 7813 766759(m) Meena Raman can be contacted via Helen or Lang

In London : Neil Verlander, Press Officer, + 44 (0)20 7566 1649/ + 44 (0)7712 843 209 (m) Kath Stipala, Press Officer, + 44 (0)20 7566 1649


NOTES TO EDITORS                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Climate change will have a devastating impact on some of the world’s poorest communities. This is one of the reasons that Friends of the Earth is a member of Make Poverty History. www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/africa_pays_price_for_g8_c_28062005.html Africa is more exposed to the impacts of climate change than many other regions in the world. Its high sensitivity is exacerbated by other factors such as widespread poverty, recurrent droughts and floods, an immediate daily dependence on rain-fed agriculture, natural resources, biodiversity and a heavy disease burden. The IPCC in its third assessment report from 2001 describes Africa , the world’s poorest region as “the continent most vulnerable to the impacts of projected change because widespread poverty limits adaptation capabilities” it predicts “climate change will exacerbate existing physical ecological/biological, and soci-economic stresses on the African coastal zone”. One of the first studies to examine how climate change might alter the land surface of Africa , was published on Thursday, by Oxford University . The report details how within decades, higher temperatures and reduced moisture would lead to the Kalahari dunefields spreading across Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe and western Zambia. This would leave tens or even hundreds of thousands of people affected by such changes, the team said. “The Kalahari is a large area that supports a reasonably big rural population that lives by farming,” Professor David Thomas who led the team explained.