Human Development Report seeks to add a new dimension to the global
climate change debate – climate change will compound poverty and
vulnerability. It is estimated that a rise in global temperature in
excess of 2 degree centigrade will cause irreversible damage, and may
well reverse recent gains in Human Development.
The Human Development Report, Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World, estimates that the world will have to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by half by 2050, relative to 1990 levels, in order to avoid dangerous and irreversible climate change. This will require rich countries to cut emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050, with cuts of 30 per cent by 2020. Emissions from developing countries are expected to peak around 2020, and thereafter will need to effect reductions of 20 per cent by 2050. Since the Kyoto Protocol, such targets and their relation to economic growth have been hotly debated.
climate change will affect rainfall patterns, it is estimated that
poorer nations will see a 15 percent decline in agricultural
productivity. As these are countries where people eat what they grow,
this will affect their nutritional status, economic resilience and the
future of their children. UNDP not only calls for urgent international
action to cut emissions and to ensure that these vulnerabilities are
addressed, they also express unambiguous concerns with the long term
global progress in human development and the Millennium Development
Goals, which have not yet been achieved. Climate change may lead to a
slow down if not a reversal of progress and it is estimated that the
Pacific will be amongst the regions most strongly affected.
people face the greatest risk of becoming poorer, getting displaced
from their homes and regressing in their development as a result of
climate change. While the Small Islands Developing States in the
Pacific are amongst the lowest carbon emitters, they will be the first
to suffer from climate change. In the next ten years if the average
temperature were to increase beyond two degrees Celsius sea level rises
will see a number of Pacific islands disappear from the face of the
map, the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development
Report 2007/2008 warns.
The report that was launched by the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Richard Dictus, in
coastal communities in the Pacific could be seriously affected by
rising sea levels and flooding caused by global temperature increases
of 3-4 degrees Celsius could result the permanent or temporary
displacement of people living in low-lying areas,” said Mr. Dictus.
Pacific Island Countries are already susceptible to a range of natural hazards such as cyclones, storm surges, droughts and flooding. Climate change will see extreme events happen both more frequently and more intensely. The Pacific is already experiencing the impact of more extreme events such as tropical cyclones and storm surges. Coupled with projected rates of sea-level rise and flooding, critical infrastructure such as airports, port facilities, roads, vital utilities such as power and water, coastal protection structures and tourism facilities as well as social services such as health and education are being exposed to increased risk.
Some examples include:
· More than 50% of Pacific islanders live within 1.5 km of the shoreline and are particularly exposed to accelerated coastal erosion, saline intrusion, coral reef bleaching and flooding.
· Many island people rely on fisheries as a source of food and income from coral reef and mangrove habitats that are threatened by warming ocean temperatures and sea level rise.
cyclones amplify the threat from sea-level rise to vital infrastructure
in Pacific Island Countries. For example, a 0.5 m rise in sea level,
combined with a 1-in-50 year cyclone would cause major damage to port
high island such as Viti Levu could experience average annual economic
losses from disruption to social services and infrastructure of $US23
to 52 million by 2050, equivalent to 2 to 4% of
change has been recognized as one of the largest threats to
development, this century. For the Pacific Island Countries, limited
land size and resources, isolation and vulnerability to natural
disasters exacerbate this threat
In the Pacific, carbon dioxide emission has annually changed from between 1990 to 2004 by 2.3% in
is therefore very hard to accept that these will be the same countries
that will be so hard hit if the world does not significantly cuts the
emission of greenhouse gases,” said Mr. Dictus.
proof that climate change is happening as we speak is based now on hard
scientific evidence. We can observe the changes ourselves and the
consequences are inescapable. The world community needs to take action
and the UN agencies in the Pacific are committing themselves to provide
support and assistance in any way they can,” he concluded.
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