The headlines don’t say it, but we can’t ignore the link between development and climate change, explains Sarah Kirby, a member of the action 2015 youth panel (pictured standing third left), in her blog as part our #coolerplanet series ahead of climate talks (COP21) in Paris in December.
In September World leaders committed to 17 Global Goals in order to tackle extreme poverty, inequality & injustice and climate change. Of these 17 goals only one is directly linked to climate change – so surely this means it is the easiest of the three to tackle? Well, to put it bluntly, no, it isn’t. None of them are easy and although climate change (Goal 13) is only directly referenced once in the Global Goals, so too is no poverty (Goal 1). But charities and NGOs, governments and institutions such as the UN are ensuring all their areas of work feed back into eradicating extreme poverty; whether this be through micro financing and increasing entrepreneurship or creating jobs and subsequently increasing a country’s gross national incomes (GNI).
It seems easy to pull apart development and climate change into two separate categories, but what is needed is for governments and world institutions to see them as one in the same thing. The headlines don’t reflect the interlinking nature, so I sat down and thought about the impact of between climate change and five Global Goals in particular.
Goal 1: No Poverty
More and more urban settlements are being built in risk prone areas such as floodplains and hillsides. The increased rainfall experienced in so many countries is increasing the amount of homes and livelihoods being lost to floods – all of this amounts to individuals and families shifting from living just above the poverty line to facing chronic poverty.
Goal 5: Gender Equality
45 – 80% of all food production in the Global South is a result of the work done by women.
Increased flooding and droughts make harvests unpredictable meaning income and family food sources are not secure.
Women are also often excluded from decision-making regarding use of land despite them making up the majority of the labour force and therefore know the land the best.
Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
Increased temperatures and rainfall are increasing the distribution of water-borne diseases and subsequently increasing the mortality rate among communities.
By 2030, populations within urban areas are expected to triple. This will ultimately increase the level of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
Goal 11 has the target of ‘provide sustainable transport systems for all and expand public transport’. We need to keep governments across the world accountable to this.
Goal 14: Life Under Water
Lakes are getting warmer – this may not seem like a huge issue but it tampers with water quality and in turn harms the fish inhabiting those waters, proving it isn’t just humans that will feel the effects of climate change, but animals too.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of the Global Goals that climate affects; goals 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15 could also be looked at. But what all of this proves is that without programmes and policies around development, climate change will not be tackled, and that without policies and programmes around climate change, extreme poverty, inequality and injustice will not be tackled.
I went to an event last week, where one campaigner said that we should not be talking about climate change but rather about climate destruction, I agree with this because that is what it is; change has happened already, destruction is now the path we are on. Now we just need to mobilise and ensure our governments around the world can see this too.