Elisabeth Tamara, 10, with Nevado Huascaran, the highest mountain in Peru, in the background. Locals, who depend on glacial melt for their water   supplies, say the level of ice and snow on the mountain is retreating. Credit: Gilvan Barreto/Oxfam
2009 is a critical year for action on climate change.

G8: Action needed on Climate Change

Climate change is exacerbating poverty and vulnerability among the world’s poorest people who are least responsible for the problem, and are least able and resourced to bear its harmful effects.

Climate change is harming harvests, livelihoods, health and safety

  • 375 million people may be at risk of climate change disasters by 2015 – more then the entire population of the United States.
  • 26 million people have already been displaced because of climate change.
  • By 2050, 200 million people a year may be on the move due to hunger, environmental degradation and loss of land because of climate change.
  • Several major cities dependent on water from glaciers now face collapse.
  • Rising temperatures will mean that sub-Saharan Africa will lose $2 billion a year as the viability of just one crop, maize, declines.
  • According to the WHO, 300,000 people die a year because of climate change.
  • A two-degree rise in temperature could see a rapid reduction in people’s ability to carry out their jobs worldwide, with a potential 30 per cent loss in some of the world’s hottest spots.
  • Climate change will result in the spread of disease to new unprepared populations.

The G8 Summit is an important opportunity to give action on climate change a huge political boost. G8 countries created the climate crisis and they have the financial resources to tackle it. 

2009 is a critical year for action on climate change, with a make-or-break UN meeting in December to agree a new climate deal for reducing emissions and funding adaptation to climate change. But international negotiations are deadlocked due to rich country failure to come forward with adequate emissions targets and offers of finance for adaptation and mitigation.

G8 leaders can improve the lives of millions of people by:

  • brokering a safe and fair climate deal to keep global warming below 2°C
  • reducing their nations’ emissions
  • committing at least $150 billion to help developing countries adapt and pursue their own low carbon futures.

Only political commitment at the highest level can prevent a human catastrophe.