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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La fracture entre riches et pauvres est aussi climatique

by Ramine Abadie, Special Correspondent, Geneva

Published in l'Humanité on 4 December 2007

Climate Change Increases the Gap Between Rich and Poor Countries

Translated Wednesday 19 December 2007, by Jonathan Pierrel

UN. The United Nations Development Programme report denounces the inequalities of the consequences of greenhouse gas effects.

It is no longer a cry of alarm but disaster bells tolling! The “Human Development Report”, published once a year by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has rarely been so gloomy. The first victims of the situation: poor countries and their populations. Those peoples suffer the consequences of rich countries’ excesses.

The UNDP reports that someone in the US or in Canada produces more than 20 tons of CO2 per year (6 tons for someone in France) whereas an Indian produces only 1.2 ton and 0.1 ton for an Ethiopian. However, the least polluting countries bear the brunt of the cost. Between 2000 and 2004, the increase of climate disruptions affected more than 260 million people, 98% of whom are in poor countries.

According to UNPD calculations, people in developing countries are 79 times more likely to suffer an increase in poverty from the already-perceivable consequences of climate change: droughts, floods, tropical storms and rise in sea-level than countries of the OECD. According to the UNPD, while the climate change issue is acknowledged, it is further more difficult to put environmental, national and international policies into force because of this “unequal distribution” of the consequences.

The top CO2 producers – i.e. rich countries – are less affected by deregulation and have more means to protect themselves. Consequently, although everybody knows we can hope to contain the problem efficiently only by dealing with the top polluters, few political leaders in Northern countries seem to be concerned. There is no particular enthusiasm to help poor countries set up necessary means to protect themselves either. Despite much talk on the international scene, an association such as The Special Climate Change Fund, created to support poor countries on the subject, has received only 20 million euros so far!

UNPD experts think that, by 2015, it would cost 30 billion euros worldwide to set up real protection methods – to which will be added another 30 billion to fight poverty and natural disasters.

After the work done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), UNPD experts state that “a failure to address climate change issues will increase the gap between the rich and the poor worldwide and within each country as well.” A view that Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the UN, declared his as the Bali climate change conference opens.

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