In the last decade, an increasing number of a
Photo by Allan Lissner, COP 16, 2010
According to the WorldWatch Institute, the world’s richest 500 million people (roughly 7% of the population) are currently responsible for 50% of carbon dioxide emissions, while the poorest 3 billion are responsible for just 6%. In the period 1900-2004, the whole of Africa generated 2.5% of cumulative carbon dioxide emissions whilst the US accounted for 29.5%.
Although these gaps are narrowing, historic emissions are relevant because carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere to exert a greenhouse effect for many decades. All assessments of vulnerability to climate change concur that the countries most seriously threatened are those which carry the least historical responsibility.
The concept of climate justice seeks to restore equity in two ways. Firstly, that richer countries should repay their climate debt by undertaking severe cuts in emissions, reserving “atmospheric space” for the growing emissions of poorer countries. Secondly, that they should provide financial support for low carbon transition and adaptation to the damaging effects ofclimate change.
Map: UNEP/GRID Arendal
- Approximately 600,000 deaths occurred worldwide as a result of weather-related natural disasters in the 1990s, some 95% of which took place in developing countries. [Bioline International]
- 330 million people will be increasingly exposed to flooding in coastal areas, flood plains of rivers and
small island states.[ILO]
- Less than a tenth of climate funds disbursed so far are estimated to have been for adaptation
to help developing countries bearing the brunt of climate impacts. [Oxfam]
- Women constitute up to 80% of refugee and displaced populations worldwide, and in emergency situations women and children may typically make up 70 to 80% of those needing assistance. [CBD]
- Women are the main producers of the world‘s staple crops, providing up to 90% of food for the rural poor and producing 60–80% of the food in most developing countries. [IUCN]
- “At the moment, the 4% of us in this country produce a quarter of the world’s carbon dioxide – once you look at maps of rising sea levels and spreading mosquitoes, you realize that we’ve probably never figured out a way to hate our neighbors around the world much more effectively.” –Bill McKibben
- “Forget about making poverty history. Climate change will make poverty permanent.” –Nazmul Chowdhury
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