30 Sep 2009

Why reducing emissions helps the poorest most

Someone wrote in to the local paper saying we should be wary of taking action to reduce C02 emissions because it is the poor who will suffer.

I wrote back to point out that this is completely the opposite of the truth. Here are four reasons why:

Firstly, it is the poor that suffer most from the consequences of climate change, whether they live in low-lying delta areas like Bangladesh, or just low quality housing that is not storm-proof. The rich can afford to protect themselves, or move.

Secondly, it is the high-consuming rich (people and countries) that need to change their behaviour, not the poor.

Thirdly, it is the poor that will benefit most from measures to combat climate change. Measures like energy-saving (ie. cheaper) homes, better public transport, local food schemes and the green jobs that need to be created to build a low-carbon economy.

Finally, alongside the issue of climate change, we face increasing pressures on the world’s resources, including oil, water and food. In any fight over these resources, it will always be the poor that come off worst. If we can reduce our use of resources, the pressure, and the pain, will be lessened.

We can create a society that is both fairer and more sustainable. The two goals go hand in hand. All it will take is people to elect politicians who have the courage and foresight to make changes that are both desirable and necessary.

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