Turkish Daily News
At this time every year since 1990 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has published its Human Development Report (HDR). It did so for 2007-2008 as well.
This year's report is themed on fighting climate change. Various development scenarios prepared in the light of another U.N. initiative, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are extensively discussed in the report. Climate change and economic development are mutually inclusive. When the director of the HDR, Kevin Watkins, says, if people in the developing world had generated per capita CO2 emissions at the same level as people in North America, we would need the atmosphere of nine planets to deal with the consequences. He points out that we are not living in an eternal world and implied that Western style of development has reached its limits since long.
Certainly it is not easy for the U.N., as an intergovernmental organization, to make radical recommendations regarding the capitalist system prevailing since the 18th century. However the dominant view is changing, though slowly. The urgent need for a complete change in current production and consumption patterns for the sake of the world is being pronounced more often now. Here in Turkey though we are being so insensitive to these negative developments. The overall approach to climate change is so uninformed that as if we are living in the middle of the 19th century. Every official who opens the mouth is talking new highways, dams and coal-based power plants.
Climate change will affect developing countries more than others. The report says, Ultimately, climate change is a threat to humanity as a whole. But it is the poor, a constituency with no responsibility for the ecological debt we are running up, who face the immediate and most severe human costs.
Cost of fighting climate change, reads the report, will be less than two-thirds of global military spending amounted to $1,200 billion in 2006.
On a positive note the report argues that with specific reforms, it is not too late to cut greenhouse gas emissions to sustainable levels without sacrificing economic growth. However, it is not realistic to rely on these reforms, as we are all aware of governments' inadequate determination, primarily the U.S. administration, to combat climate change.
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