UN climate report: Slash global emissions to help limit climate catastrophe for world’s poorest people, says CARE

11 April 2014 - The scale of the climate catastrophe facing the world’s poorest people can be still be reduced if governments take bold steps to cut global emissions and help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change impacts, aid organisation CARE International says today.

As the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases the latest instalment of its Fifth Assessment Report in Berlin, Germany, CARE International’s Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator Sven Harmeling said:

“The IPCC’s findings confirm that climate change is a man-made phenomenon that has emerged from largely unequal human development patterns. Even though a small, rich segment of the global population has caused the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions, it is the world’s poorest people who are increasingly suffering from growing climate disruption. This is an extreme global injustice.”

The so-called IPCC Working Group III report shows that global society is at increasing risk unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut rapidly. It also shows that the longer it takes for the world to move towards low-emission, renewable energies and a new, green economy, the more expensive tackling climate change and its impacts - including widespread loss and damage - will become.

Sven Harmeling adds: “The IPCC’s findings show that climate change is here and it’s happening now. This latest report also amounts to another warning shot across the bows of the fossil fuel industry as it is increasingly clear that the majority of fossil fuels will have to be left in the ground. We know that solutions exist and global climate action makes sense. From investing in renewable energy to improving energy efficiency and driving behavioural change in richer parts of the world, governments need to pursue far more rigorous measures all-round if they are going to limit the scale of the growing climate catastrophe for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

In particular, CARE wants to see governments take bold steps to significantly reduce global emissions, as well as:

  • Far more public funding and support to help drive investment in renewable energies and energy efficiency.
  • New funding and resources to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people adapt to climate change impacts.
  • Phasing-out subsidies for fossil fuels combined with increased sustainable energy access for the poor.
  • Commitment and action to reduce global emissions which keep global temperature rises to as close to 1.5 degrees C as possible.
  • Efforts to tackle climate change must address the underlying causes of poverty and inequality.

The people CARE works with, including many vulnerable women and girls, are often amongst the most marginalised members of society and therefore at particular risk of adverse climate impacts, which are already undermining their chances of lifting themselves from poverty.

CARE also warns that the need to reduce emissions must not stand in the way of ensuring that the world’s poorest people can meet their basic energy needs, for cooking or lighting, for example. The Working Group III report shows that there are many alternatives to dirty fossil fuels that have significant cost, health and environmental benefits.

Notes to Editors
1. To arrange an interview with Sven Harmeling, CARE International’s Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator, contact Jo Barrett, Climate Change Communications Coordinator jbarrett@careclimatechange.org or +44 (0)7940 703911
2. Communities CARE works with around the world are already experiencing the impacts of climate change first-hand. In Vietnam, Mozambique and Ecuador, unpredictable weather patterns and more intense storms and drought are particularly affecting people’s ability to grow food. Case studies are available here: http://www.careclimatechange.org/personal-stories. Please contact Jo Barrett jbarrett@careclimatechange.org for high resolution photos.
3. CARE is working to address many of the risks facing poor and vulnerable people through groundbreaking initiatives including the climate change Adaptation Learning Programme for Africa, initiatives to support highland communities in the Andes who are bearing the brunt of glacial retreat, and projects to restore mangroves and other coastal defenses in parts of Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam (amongst many others). All of these programmes are helping communities to address climate-related risks so that the impacts of climate change don’t tip people back into extreme poverty. At the same time, CARE is advocating for policies and laws at a national and global level that tackle the causes and effects of climate change whilst also promoting the rights and interests of the world’s poorest people.
4. CARE is a leading humanitarian organisation fighting global poverty and providing life-saving assistance in emergencies. In more than 80 countries around the world, CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. See www.careclimatechange.org for further information.