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Coalition warns about human cost of climate change
LONDON (AFP) Oct 20, 2004
Environmental and development groups joined forces in warning here Wednesday that global warming threatens to hit the world's poorest people hardest and magnify existing injustices.

In launching their report, Friends of the Earth as well as other environmental and development charities said climate change threatened to make international targets on halving world poverty by 2015 unattainable.

Many scientists say temperatures worldwide are rising because of the burning of fossil fuels, triggering worsening floods, droughts, and storms that are endangering lives and whole economies.

The environmental coalition pledged to cooperate in trying to halt climate change and find a solution that is fair, according to the report, "Up In Smoke," written by Andrew Simms, who is director of the New Economics Foundation in Britain.

"Thousands of people from the grass roots to (Chancellor of the Exchequer) Gordon Brown are aiming to make poverty history, but global warming has been critically overlooked," he said.

"Like a fire smouldering in the basement, it threatens to burn down all they have built up.

"To rescue the situation, we need a global framework to stop climate change that is based on equality and we have to ensure that plans for human development are made both climate-proof and climate-friendly."

The report was launched in London by RK Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and endorsed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

"I am deeply concerned that the physical trends that are evident in our changing environment are going to be detrimental to humanity at large and especially to the most vulnerable of the world's communities," the archbishop said.

"Those working in the field of science and technology can provide governments with vital information as to how global warming might be reduced and to limit its potentially devastating effects.

"I support this initiative to raise public awareness of the disaster that will befall us if this timely warning is ignored."

The coalition called on the international community to take urgent action to introduce a global risk assessment of the likely costs of adaptation to climate change in poor countries.

It also called for cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases by industrialized countries of between 60 percent and 80 percent over 1990 levels by the middle of this century, far beyond the targets of the Kyoto Protocol.

The report said the steps were vital to stop climate change running out of control.

It called for new funds and other resources made available by industrialized countries for poor country adaptation as well as for efficient arrangements to respond to the increasing burden of climate-related disaster relief.

It appealed for small-scale renewable energy projects promoted by governments and community groups which can help to both tackle poverty and reduce climate change.

The measures will require political commitment and new funds from governments in all countries and a major shift in priorities by the World Bank and other development bodies, the coalition said.

The report welcomed Prime Minister Tony Blair's commitment to use Britain's presidency of the G-8 summit in 2005 to bring climate change and Africa, where most of the poorest countries are found, to the top of the international agenda.

It said the world must face up to the inseparable challenges of poverty and a rapidly warming global climate.

Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said: "Climate change threatens to perpetuate injustices unprecedented in human history.

"Millions of vulnerable people are already feeling the effects of pollution caused by the comfortable minority. If action is not taken soon, tens of millions could pay with their lives."

The coalition's 17 members include ActionAid, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF, according to the BBC.

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