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Poor will feel greatest impact of climate change

Poor will feel greatest impact of climate change, scientist tells UN commission

4 May 2006 – Changes in weather patterns and extreme weather events due to climate change will have the greatest impact on the world's poorest people, the head of the of the leading scientific panel on the issue told the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in New York today.

R.K. Pachauri, the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, noted that so far the emphasis in confronting climate change has focused solely on mitigating the causes that have been responsible for a warm-up of the earth's atmosphere.

But he said far more must be done to support technological advances - such as the development crops that can withstand droughts or floods, use less water, and withstand greater salinity - that would allow the poor to adapt to the effects of climate change.

He also called for attention to power sources. “Unless the energy needs of the poor are met, we will not be able to attain sustainable development,” he said.

Mr. Pachauri said the earth's atmosphere can heat up from 1.4-5.8ºC by the end of the century and in the same time period, sea level can rise anywhere from 9 to 88 cm. At the same time, he said the frequency, intensity and location of extreme weather events such as storms, droughts and floods, is expected to change.

“The poorest of the poor are likely to be most affected as a result of climate change,” he emphasized.

The IPCC is presently working on a new assessment which he said “should fill in some of the gaps” in international knowledge.

Halldor Thorgeirsson, Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said the biggest challenge, right now, was to influence investment decisions that could affect the development and implementation of cleaner technologies by the private sector.

“The economics are not right,” he said. “The cost of emissions is not carried by the emitter, but by the rest of humanity.”

The Commission on Sustainable Development is presently holding a two-week session focusing on the inter-related issues of energy, air pollution, industrial development and climate change.


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