Climate change could imperil poverty goals, ECOSOC hears

2 May 2008 –

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) should send a strong message that efforts to achieve the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could be reversed if climate change is not addressed, its President Léo Mérorès told Council members today.

In a discussion aimed at exploring the relationship between the development goals and climate change, Mr. Mérorès noted that several countries are off track in achieving the MDGs and said that climate change could further hamper countries’ efforts to make headway.

ECOSOC’s high-level ministerial session this summer will focus on climate change and development, and Mr. Mérorès said ministers should take action on development and climate change.

“In order to achieve the MDGs by the 2015 target date,” he said, “we do not only need to step up our efforts particularly targeted at specific MDGs, but also need to step up our efforts to address the challenge of climate change. Otherwise, we risk seeing hard earned fragile economic and social progress reversed by the negative effects of climate change.”

“Climate change is, fundamentally, a sustainable development challenge,” said Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang, which involves not only environmental protection but also economic and social development.

“While the list of challenges might seem daunting,” Mr. Sha said, “we should firmly reject a ‘gloom and doom’ approach. Today, we have the tools to tackle poverty and climate change in an integrated and balanced way.”

He added that to move forward, it will be necessary “to bridge the divide between actors on the environment and on development which, despite our past efforts, continues to exist.”

Ogunlade Davidson, a co-chair of one of the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, asserted that there was no question that climate change was occurring, and that despite the claims of climate sceptics, the evidence showed that the cause of climate change was due to human activity, not natural causes.

But he said it was possible to mitigate the emissions that cause climate change, although “not if we continue to do what we are doing.” He said climate policy alone will not solve the climate change policy and that many other policies must be considered, including taxes, subsidies, trade policies, access to modern energy, bank lending policies and insurance policies.

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