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Ending extreme poverty in a changing climate

The impacts of climate change are widely recognised as being among the leading threats to the eradication of extreme poverty. Climate change is not only expected to keep people currently living in poverty trapped there, but also threatens to cancel out progress that has been made to reduce poverty.

The multiplier effect of climate change interacting with other drivers of poverty is expected to lead to a range of challenges for households living in poverty as well as those vulnerable to poverty.

The complex links between climate change and poverty eradication now feature in the mainstream discourse and evidence of their two-way relationship has been building. This is helping to inform strategies to cohesively address climate change and extreme poverty. Significant gaps remain, though, and interventions to address goals climate and environmental goals have received less attention than other Sustainable Development Goals, such as those for health and education.

This paper explores how climate change is expected to affect efforts to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. Some linkages are:

  • The channel between agriculture, climate change and extreme poverty is perhaps the
    best understood, with the impoverishing effects of slow- and rapid-onset climate
    events receiving significant attention.
  • The population experiencing extreme poverty tends to live in the most precarious housing, have less access to services, and are often employed in sectors vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
  • People living in extreme poverty are more exposed to health risks than those that are not, and ill health is a well-known cause of impoverishment.
  • The disproportionate impacts of climate change on the poorest people, and in the poorest countries, shows the injustice of the crisis – those least responsible for climate change are the worst affected.

There are many possible intervention areas that could be considered along the climatehealth-poverty chain. The impacts of air quality on people living in or near poverty and exposure to diseases associated with climate change on people experiencing extreme poverty are some of the areas of intervention we recommend for further research. Read the full paper for further analysis.

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