11/27/2007 1:48:50 PM A report
commissioned by the UN's Human Development Program has warned that the
world has less than a decade to change course to avoid an irreversible
The 400-page report released on Tuesday urged rich nations to pay $86 billion by 2015 to help the poor adapt to global warming, of which the U.S. government needs to cover $40 billion.
The UN agency held the U.S. and other well-developed countries most responsible for the rising levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, mainly attributed to the use of coal, oil, and other fossil fuels. Consequently, the greatest financial responsibility lies with the world's richest countries to bear the largest burden in cutting emissions and in providing financial aid to the poor, the panel of experts said.
The UN Development Program called on the developed countries to reduce emissions by at least 30% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050. Developing nations should cut emissions by 20% by the middle of the century.
The expert panel has warned that floods, droughts and other climate disasters will rob millions of children in the poorer countries of the decent meals and education they need. A warmer world "could stall and then reverse human development" in the countries where 2.6 billion people live on $2 a day or less.
The harsh warning from the UN's Human Development report came just ahead of the climate summit to be held next week in Bali, Indonesia, to discuss a successor to the current climate treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
Incidentally, Indonesia's environment minister said Tuesday that global warming was to blame after the capital of Jakarta was partially flooded, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and cutting off a highway to the international airport.
"The poorest countries and most vulnerable citizens will suffer the earliest and most damaging setbacks, even though they have contributed least to the problem," the report says.
Olav Kjorven, head of the U.N. Development Program's bureau for development policy, projected a dreadful picture that global warming is going to bring about in the near future. 600 million people more in sub-Saharan Africa will go hungry from failing agriculture, an additional 400 million people will be exposed to malaria and other diseases and another 200 million will be flooded out of their homes, he said.
The report has warned that no country is going to escape the impact of global warming, irrespective of its wealth or power.
The UN report also pointed out developed countries' failure to meet their targets under the Kyoto protocol for cutting greenhouse gases by 2012. While France, Germany, Britain and Japan have reduced their emissions to a certain extent, the European Union is falling short of its goal of a 20 percent cut by 2020.
The report cites possible consequences such as women and young girls having to walk further to collect water in the Horn of Africa, people erecting bamboo flood shelters on stilts in the Ganges delta, and others planting mangroves to protect themselves against storm surges in the Mekong delta.
Despite possessing the financial resources and the technological capabilities to counter the wrath of global warming, the world lacks “a sense of urgency, human solidarity, and collective interest," the UN report concluded.
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