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Climate change and the world's poorest

The Times

Economically developed countries must lead the world in tackling climate change

Sir, In the face of economic crisis we have seen what is achievable when countries unite in a common cause. But with the world at the brink of ecological disaster and millions of poor people already living on the front line of climate change, it is essential that this ambition be heightened as world leaders meet this week at the UN climate negotiations in Poland (letters, Dec 6).

Around the world, international aid agencies such as Oxfam are seeing the effects of climate change on the world’s poor. In Uganda changing weather patterns mean farmers gamble when to sow seeds; in Bangladesh, more intense and frequent monsoons have destroyed homes. Around the world, health is at risk from disease and malnutrition, and children — usually girls — are being pulled from school to walk further distances for water.

It is desperately unfair that the poor should again feel the brunt, despite being least responsible.

Wealthy nations, who are in their advantaged position because of heavy industrialisation, are the most responsible and most able to lead the world in tackling climate change. This is why they must show leadership in Poland and provide solutions that have the interests of the world’s poor at their heart.

Rich countries must lead the way to cut emissions now so that all countries take their fair share of responsibility and act to keep global warming exceeding 2C above pre-industrial levels. They must also commit funding so that poor communities can adapt to climate change. Together, we must work towards low-carbon development so that all countries — including the poor — can prosper.

We call on world leaders meeting in Poznan to ensure that these ingredients are put in place. Only then can we hope for a global climate agreement that will safeguard the planet and ensure that poor people can truly pull themselves from poverty.