It’s official: The world’s poorest people will be the most screwed over by climate change and its ill effects, including drought, agricultural failures, water shortages, disease, flooding, and all the rest, according to a new report from the United Nations Development Program. “For millions of people, these are events that offer a one-way ticket to poverty and long-run cycles of disadvantage,” the report says. The report cautions that inequalities in the ability to cope with climate change have been emerging as an increasingly powerful driver of even wider inequalities between and within countries. And while the poor will undoubtedly get shafted by other economic and social factors, it’s not yet too late to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. UNDP has called for all developed nations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, and for developing nations to cut their emissions 20 percent by 2050. (In the meantime, a little economic justice wouldn’t hurt either.) “Ultimately, climate change is a threat to humanity as a whole. But it is the poor, a constituency with no responsibility for the ecological debt we are running up, who face the immediate and most severe human costs,” said UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis.
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