Madrid / 09 December 2019
The shadow of climate change is long. Its devastating consequences go far beyond what we might think at first sight. And perhaps the cruelest thing of all is that it disproportionately affects those who have least, and who also contribute least to climate change.
According to a report published recently by the United Nations, in only ten years' time over 120 million people will be plunged into poverty as a direct consequence of the effects of climate change. Let's look at the numbers in perspective: this figure is equivalent to the entire populations of Germany and Spain put together.
Due to the extreme temperatures reached in some regions on the planet, the least fortunate will face food shortages, loss of income and multiple negative effects on their health. It is calculated that 75% of the burden of climate change will fall on emerging countries. According to the report, many people will have to choose between emigrating or dying of starvation.
We risk a 'climate apartheid' scenario in which the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict
Meanwhile the richest, who have the greatest capacity to adapt and are responsible for and have benefited from the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions, will be the best placed to cope with climate change.
Specifically, 10% of the wealthiest citizens are responsible for half the carbon emissions, whereas the poorest half of the planet – 3.5 billion people – only contribute 10% of the total. The situation is drastic.
"We risk a 'climate apartheid' scenario in which the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict,” warns Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur.
Time is running out and the voices are becoming deafening. And they're coming from everywhere: young people, the scientific community, human rights activists, the media. Now all that's necessary is for the leaders of all the countries gathered at the COP25 taking place in Madrid to hear them.