Link must be made between climate change and poverty

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 02 Jul 2008

The Rudd Government’s response to the Garnaut draft report this Friday must tackle the injustice at the heart of climate change – that poor people in developing countries, who are the most affected, are least responsible for causing climate change.
In an effort to tackle this inequality, revenue from the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme should be used not only to reduce Australia’s own greenhouse emissions but also to fund Australia’s fair share of assisting developing countries which are struggling to cope with the ongoing impacts of climate change.
The Make Poverty History coalition of aid, community and religious organisations also wants to see the Federal Government compensate low-income households in Australia for any rising costs an Emissions Trading Scheme might bring.
“Climate change threatens to undermine the progress made in the global fight against poverty,” said Make Poverty History climate change spokesperson Charlotte Sterrett. “Australians who believe in a fair go should be deeply concerned about a debate dominated by the economics of climate change that fails to take into account the impact on poor people, their homes and livelihoods.”
Ms Sterrett said that within our region, people living in low-lying islands and river deltas were already experiencing the negative results of climate change, including rising seas and salt water inundation. This contributed to crop losses, destruction of fresh water sources and flooding.
“The nation of Tuvalu faces the prospect of disappearing completely, as do other low-lying islands in the Pacific, including those in Papua New Guinea, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands,” Ms Sterrett said.
“For these people, climate change is already a stark reality and a terrifying future.”
Make Poverty History is calling on the Rudd Government to play a leading role in the international climate change negotiations currently under way.
“Australia, as one of the major carbon emitters per capita in the world, and an important neighbour in the Pacific region, has a greater responsibility for addressing the problem,” Ms Sterrett said. “We need climate change solutions that are just and fair.”
As part of this, the Federal Government must pay its fair share of adaptation financing for developing countries – scaling up to an estimated $1.7 billion annually by 2015.
Australia should also set a strong target to reduce its own emissions and encourage other developed countries to set similarly strict targets. Developed countries need to reduce their collective emissions by at least 25% – 40% of 1990 levels by the year 2020 to give the world a chance of avoiding dangerous climate change.
Professor Ross Garnaut is inviting public input into his report, before the final version is handed down on 30 September. An analysis of the Garnaut draft report will be included in Make Poverty History’s report, See the Bigger Picture, to be launched later this month.
Make Poverty History in Australia is a coalition of more than 60 member organisations working together to tackle global poverty. Go to
To interview Charlotte Sterrett please contact Laurelle Keough on 03 9289 9336, 0409 960 100,