Wealthy countries must provide at least $86 billion US to the world's poor by 2015 to help them cope with the floods, droughts, disease and other negative effects from global warming, a new UN report says.
"Ultimately, climate change is a threat to humanity as a whole, but it is the poor … who face the immediate and most severe human costs," Kemal Dervis of the UN Development Programme said in a press release.
The annual Human Development Report issued Tuesday was compiled by a team of independent development experts. The 399-page report is intended to be a source of information when countries gather in Bali, Indonesia, on Monday to discuss a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, an international climate treaty that expires in 2012.
It notes that global warming will stall and then reverse any development progress made by the world's poor — about 2.6 billion people who live on less than $2 US each a day.
Scientists have predicted world temperatures could rise between 1.8 and four degrees over the next century, causing floods, severe storms, droughts and rising sea levels.
The report says this erratic weather could force 332 million to flee their homes on coastal areas in developing countries, including 70 million people in Bangladesh and 22 million in Vietnam.
Another 400 million people would be at risk for malaria and other diseases, while droughts could cripple the agriculture in places like sub-Saharan Africa, leaving 600 million people facing malnutrition.
Wealthy countries need to help the developing world prepare for these global warming hardships, the report says, with money directed towards projects such as those that provide people with hand pumps to access clean water or that help people construct homes on earthen platforms that could sustain a flood.
The developed world has only spent about $26 million US on such adaptation projects, amounting to only about one week's worth of spending on flood defences in the United Kingdom, it says.
"Leaving the world's poor to sink or swim with their own meagre resources in the face of the threat posed by climate change is morally wrong," Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, a retired South African Anglican archbishop, writes in the report.
"This is precisely what's happening. We are drifting into a world of 'adaptation apartheid.'"
While the report focuses on how wealthy countries should aid poor countries, it also notes that the developing nations, especially industrializing countries like China and India, are an increasingly large source of the emissions linked to global warming.
Cut emissions by one-fifth by 2050
The report says the developing world must cut their emissions by at least 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050. However, the report stresses that wealthy countries must help developing countries meet those targets, providing them with incentives and green technologies.
The report notes that while a country like China may be on pace to overtake the United States as the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter in the next 10 years, individuals in the developing world personally consume far less energy than those in the developed world.
The average American emits five times more carbon dioxide than the average Chinese person, and 15 times more than the average Indian, the report says, noting that one air conditioner unit in a Florida home pumps out more carbon dioxide in a year than a person in Cambodia uses in a lifetime.
The report also sets high targets for developed countries, stating they must cut emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050, based on 1990 levels.
The targets come as international leaders prepare to debate a replacement for the Kyoto accord, which set international emissions targets for countries to meet by 2012.
Under the agreement, which Canada signed in 1998 under a previous Liberal government, Canada was supposed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent below 1990 levels.
However, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly said the goal is not achievable and would devastate Canada's economy.
The Conservatives instead have a plan that calls for Canada to reduce overall emissions by 20 per cent of 2006 levels by 2020, which puts the country at least a decade behind its Kyoto requirements.
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