“Climate apartheid” looming, warns special rapporteur

Humanity is on the brink of a coming ‘climate apartheid’, where the rich can afford to escape the new extremes of the climate crisis while the poor languish, a UN Special Rapporteur has warned.

In delivering his report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Philip Alston warned that the growing impacts of climate change will not only impact access to food, water and shelter, but undermine democracy and threaten the rule of law around the globe.

“Even if current targets are met, tens of millions will be impoverished, leading to widespread displacement and hunger,” Mr Alston said.

“Climate change threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction,” Alston said. “It could push more than 120 million more people into poverty by 2030 and will have the most severe impact in poor countries, regions, and the places poor people live and work.”

According to his report, even the unrealistic best-case scenario of 1.5°C of warming by 2100 will see extreme temperatures in many regions and leave disadvantaged populations with food insecurity, lost incomes, and worse health. Many will have to choose between starvation and migration.

“Perversely, while people in poverty are responsible for just a fraction of global emissions, they will bear the brunt of climate change, and have the least capacity to protect themselves,” Alston said. “We risk a ‘climate apartheid’ scenario where the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer.”

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