Sunday, December 2, 2007

Adaptation apartheid

"No community with a sense of justice, compassion or respect for basic human rights should accept the current pattern of adaptation. Leaving the world's poor to sink or swim with their own meager resources in the face of the threat posed by climate change is morally wrong. Unfortunately, [...] this is precisely what is happening. We are drifting into a world of 'adaptation apartheid'.
Allowing that drift to continue would be short-sighted. Of course, rich countries can use their vast financial and technological resources to protect themselves against climate change, at least in the short term - that is one of the privileges of wealth. But as climate change destroys livelihoods, displaces people, and undermines entire social and economic systems, no country - however rich or powerful - will be immune to the consequences. In the long-run, the problems of the poor will arrive at the doorstep of the wealthy, as the climate crisis gives way to despair, anger and collective security threats.
None of this has to happen. In the end the only solution to climate change is urgent mitigation. But we can - and must - work together to ensure that the climate change happening now does not throw human development into reverse gear. That is why I call on the leaders of the rich world to bring adaptation to climate change to the heart of the international poverty agenda - and to do it before it is too late."

Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, cited in the Human Development Report 2007/2008 of the United Nations Development Programme.

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