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IPCC report reveals how inequality makes impacts worse – and what to do about it

IPCC report reveals how inequality makes impacts worse – and what to do about it

Young people raise plastic containers filled with water from a well.

Nearly half of the global population – between 3.3 and 3.6 billion people – lives in areas highly vulnerable to climate change. The brief window in which to limit how intense and frequent climate impacts such as stronger storms, droughts, flooding and sea-level rise become and to secure “a liveable and sustainable future for all” is rapidly narrowing.

So it goes A new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which confirms what social movements have been saying for decades. Your vulnerability to the effects of climate change is dependent on how poor and socially connected you are.

The report, which reviewed 34,000 papers, found that heatwaves and hurricanes have made it more difficult to get clean water and nutritious food. This is particularly true in Africa and Asia, Central and South America as well small islands and Arctic.

Low-income households, small-scale food producers, and indigenous people are at risk of malnourishment. Children, the elderly, and pregnant women are particularly affected. Women are now more likely to travel further to access clean water in drought-prone areas, increasing their chances of being subjected to gender-based violence.

One in three people are already vulnerable to heat stress that can lead to death. This number is expected to rise to three in every four by the end. A billion people who live on the coasts will be affected by severe flooding every year from 2050.

As temperatures rise and humidity increases, mosquitoes and other vectors will be able to invade new territories and spread diseases to people (dengue fever), crops, livestock, and wildlife. This will lead to more deaths and suffering in countries with poor infrastructures, data collection, and vaccines.




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Sea-level rise poses an “existential threat” for some small islands according to the IPCC. These places are already experiencing longer droughts and deeper floods, as well as fish spoilt by ocean heating, and freshwater contaminated by encroaching waters. Storms are increasingly damaging homes, schools, hospitals and crops.

Floods and storms can be devastating for people with disabilities, older people, and the poor. They often lack the resources to evacuate safely. Marginalised groups – including people who identify as LGBTQI – are more likely to live in insecure homes which are more vulnerable to strong winds, for example.

It does not matter if a country existed once. ruled by a colonial forceIt is still a reliable indicator of current poverty levels in a country. Recent trade policies have been designed to Shelter foreign companiesThese countries are exempt from paying taxes and leave the owners of these businesses with less money for climate adaptation.

Take Senegal, an African country in the west. Persistent droughtsLeaving hundreds of thousands of people without reliable food supplies has left them all. The government spends more than A quarter of its GDP is spent on this sectorServicing external debt and neglecting vital investment in food production, public services, and other areas.

Young people raise plastic containers filled with water from a well.
Senegal will have to struggle to pay for the infrastructure needed to weather prolonged and drier droughts.
Boulenger Xavier/Shutterstock

How can the world combat climate change?

The scale of climate impacts are far worse – and arriving sooner – than previously predicted. Many of them are now inexorable, such as increasing heatwaves and wildfires, severe storms, diseases, and sea-level rise. To ensure that the majority of life on Earth has a future that is sustainable, the impact must be minimized.

At 2°C of global warming compared to 1.5°C, nearly two billion more people will be exposed to severe heat and food and water stress. Rising seas will cause the loss of many more islands, atolls and delta regions, as well as coastal towns.

Although the report acknowledges the importance and equity of justice and equity when proposing solutions, it doesn’t go as far as allocating responsibility. For many activists, those countries most responsible for historic emissions – like the US and UK – must lead the way in decarbonising their economies.

The authors of the report acknowledged that funding is not available to assist poorer countries adapting to the effects of climate change. Wealthier countries have failed to meet their commitments of US$100 million per year by 2020 despite having committed to do so. 87%If loans and other non-grant forms are excluded, then the loan or other form of finance will not be accepted. The funding that has reached the poorest regions of the globe has prioritized mitigating the effects of greenhouse gas emissions over adapting for climate change.

It is crucial to scale up adaptation finance to help communities build homes that can withstand stronger storms. This will enable safe and dignified migration routes, with the active participation and participation of those being displaced. Plant trees that can cool cities and prevent heatwaves. This will help countries expand access to healthcare, social security, clean water, education, renewable energy, and social protection.

The report warned that the losses and damages caused by climate change which cannot be adapted to are “strongly concentrated among the poorest vulnerable populations” who have done the least to cause the problem. ResearchThe Lancet medical journal published a study that found that 85% of total emissions were caused by the United States, EU, UK and Russia.

At the COP26 climate conference, in autumn 2021, low-income countries demanded financial contributions from richer countries to mitigate climate-related loss or damage. This point is likely to be the foundation of negotiations at the UN climate summit in Egypt in Nov 2022.

The IPCC report demonstrates that rich countries cannot postpone an answer on these calls by promising further discussion. As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres put it: “delay means death”.


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