The problem: Climate Change
Climate change is the burning issue of our times and is already affecting every inhabited region across the planet. However, while climate change is poised to have devastating impacts everywhere, those in global extreme poverty will be hardest hit. Climate change will both push more people into extreme poverty and catastrophically affect the lives of people already in extreme poverty.
According to the World Bank, “up to 132 million people may fall into poverty by 2030 due to the manifold effects of climate change.” The effects of climate change on the world’s poor include forced displacement, destruction of homes and property, health effects from extreme weather events (droughts, floods, wildfires, hurricanes, exposure to extreme temperatures), impacts on crop yields, food prices and food insecurity. For example, between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress. Regions with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope.
Climate change and extreme poverty are inextricably linked, and addressing climate change is an essential component of fighting extreme poverty. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the global community must cut greenhouse gas pollution approximately in half by 2030, and achieve global net-zero pollution by mid-century.
The solution: Policy Advocacy
As the world’s largest historical emitter of climate pollution, and the global leader in technology innovation, the United States should be among the first to achieve that net-zero target, as fast as possible and well before mid-century. The federal government has the opportunity to lead the charge to defeat the climate crisis and build a thriving and just clean energy future.
However, to realize this opportunity, effective policy development and savvy advocacy are required.