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How Are Climate Change and Poverty Intertwined?

During a summit in 2019, Pope Francis called out the lack of action against climate change, “we must take action accordingly, to avoid perpetuating a brutal act of injustice towards the poor and future generations.” He also said, “The poor suffer the worst impacts of the climate crisis.” 

The same thing has been said repeatedly by different people, including climate scientists and climate advocates. People in low-income communities and developing countries are disproportionately affected by climate change. This is not a vague statement backed by zero evidence. A paper by World Bank in 2020 estimated that 32 to 132 million people will fall into poverty by 2030 due to climate change. 

In its latest report, IPCC has warned that vulnerable communities face continuous disasters without having the time to recover from previous ones. It has also mentioned the gap between actions taken and the actions required being the largest in lower-income people. 

With the increase in intensity and frequency of disasters, rising sea levels, and increase in ocean acidification, the livelihoods of people are bound to crash. But the people most adversely affected are the low-income groups. This is made obvious by the fact that impoverished people have significantly fewer resources. Similarly, it takes a considerable amount of time for a developing country to rebuild after facing deadly natural disasters. While more and more countries are making plans to adapt to the changes, there is no guarantee of the efficacy of these plans. 

Poorest Countries Suffer the Worst 

As per the Climate Risk Index, 2021, Mozambique, Bahamas, and Zimbabwe were the most affected by climate change in 2019.

The cyclone Idai caused catastrophic damage in all three countries and became the deadliest cyclone in the South-West Indian Ocean. Almost a month and a half later, before Mozambique had the chance to deal with the devastation left behind by Idai, it was hit by another destructive cyclone. The damage in monetary terms was approximately 3.2 billion, which is almost half of Mozambique’s national budget.

Also Read- IPCC Report 2022: Climate Change and Its Repercussions

In a report by ReliefWeb, Chikondi Chabvuta, one of CARE’s advisors, said, “Two years ago, Cyclone Idai showed the world what climate change was capable of, and since then, there has been no relief for the people of Mozambique and no opportunity for recovery. The most vulnerable communities continue to pay the price for climate change while more wealthy countries take the time to deliberate over weak climate action targets and financial goals.”

India ranked in the 7th position in this index with 0.17 fatalities per 100,000 people. As per the report, India faced eight tropical cyclones, and the floods displaced 1.8 million people. The prolonged monsoon season led to floods in multiple states and killed over 1800 people. 

Water shortages, food scarcity, wildfires, and ocean acidification are just some problems that affect vulnerable communities the most. The countries contributing the least to global warming are the hardest hit. The IPCC has urged governments around the world to take action to stop the devastating consequences of climate change and develop adaptation plans. Strategies should be made to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels and poverty. The goals set during the Paris Agreement should be met. It is crucial to remember that a world with poverty can never slow or stop climate change.

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