Rich communities will be able to emerge from the ongoing climate crisis while the poorest will suffer the most, according to a UN report.

Even in the unrealistic “best-case scenario” of 1.5 ° C warming by 2100, millions of people will have to choose between starvation and migration, warned Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on the extreme. poverty and human rights.

He predicted a split between those who can mitigate the worst effects of global warming and those who have no way of avoiding it, calling it “climate apartheid”.

And he said the fallout from our rapidly warming climate would have dire implications for human rights and democracy.

“What was once considered catastrophic warming now appears to be the best of times,” Alston said.

“While people in poverty are responsible for only a fraction of global emissions, they will bear the brunt of climate change and have the least ability to protect themselves.

“We risk a ‘climate apartheid’ scenario where the rich pay to escape overheating, hunger and conflict while the rest of the world suffers.

“Climate change is, among other things, an unreasonable assault on the poor.”

He cited vulnerable New Yorkers stranded without electricity or healthcare when Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012, while “Goldman Sachs headquarters was protected by tens of thousands of its own sandbags and electricity. of its generator “.

The poorest half of the world’s population – 3.5 billion people – is responsible for only 10% of carbon emissions, while the richest 10% are responsible for about half of greenhouse gases. tight.

And a person in the richest 1% uses 175 times more carbon than a person in the poorest 10%, according to a 2015 Oxfam report.

There have been positive developments, with the prices of renewables falling, with coal becoming uncompetitive, emissions falling in 49 countries and 7,000 cities, 245 regions and 6,000 companies engaging in change mitigation. climate.

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However, despite ending its dependence on coal, China – the world’s biggest polluter – still exports coal-fired power plants and fails to tackle its own methane emissions.

Meanwhile, Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro plans to open up the Amazon rainforest to mining, end the demarcation of indigenous lands and weaken environmental protection.

Donald Trump blamed other countries for the crisis as the United States is the second biggest polluter in the world.

“China, India, Russia, a lot of other nations, they don’t have very good air, not very good water, and a sense of pollution. If you go to some cities… you can’t even breathe, and now that the air is going up… They don’t take responsibility, ”he said in an interview earlier in June.

Mr Alston also criticized the “manifestly inadequate” measures taken by UN human rights bodies to address the climate crisis, saying the “incremental” progress was “grossly disproportionate to the progress made. urgency and the scale of the threat “.

“Checking boxes will not save mankind or the planet from impending doom,” he concluded.


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