A unique new coalition launched to fight climate change, and including several Christian agencies, is warning that unless action is taken immediately, human development gains will go 'up in smoke'.
The warning comes in a new report, launched today in London, which says that global warming threatens to make the international targets on halving global poverty by 2015, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) unattainable.
The launch of the report, entitled "Up in Smoke" and endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu comes a few days after churches around the world commenced a global campaign to mobilise millions of Christians in 100 countries to press their governments to halve poverty by 2015, and take a lead in putting pressure on governments to achieve the eight MDGs.
It also comes just a week after the launch of Operation Noah, a new campaign by Christian churches to curb human-induced climate change.
The report is particularly pertinent after a summer marred by havoc wrought across the Caribbean by the hurricanes Jeanne and Ivan, and the worst flooding in recent years in Bangladesh. In a world in which global warming is already happening, such severe weather events are likely to be more frequent, and extreme.
The new coalition, including Christian Aid, World Vision, Tear Fund, ActionAid and Operation Noah, sees leading environmental and development charities come together for the first time to highlight their joint concern about the serious impact that global warming is already having on some of the worldís poorest communities.
Pledging to play their part in trying to halt dangerous climate change and to help bring about a global solution that is fair and rooted in human equality, the coalition is calling on the international community to take urgent action to introduce a global risk assessment of the likely costs of adaptation to climate change in poor countries.
It is also urging cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases by industrialised countries in the order of 60-80 per cent (relative to 1990 levels) by the middle of this century, far beyond the targets of the Kyoto Protocol. This the coalition says is vital to stop climate change running out of control.
Commensurate new funds must also be made available by industrialised countries, says the report, for poor country adaptation, bearing in mind that rich country subsidies to their domestic fossil fuel industries stood at billion per year in the late 1990s.
The report also calls for small-scale renewable energy projects, promoted by governments and community groups, which can help to both tackle poverty and reduce climate change if they are replicated and scaled-up. This the coalition says will require political commitment and new funds from governments in all countries, and a major shift in priorities by the World Bank and other development bodies.
The Prime Minister Tony Blair has signalled that he will use the UK presidency of the G8 in 2005 to bring climate change and Africa, where most of the poorest countries are found, to the top of the international political agenda. Welcoming this commitment, the coalition says that an either/or approach to climate change and poverty reduction is not an option and the world must face up to the inseparable challenges of poverty and a rapidly warming global climate.