Richest countries urged to reduce unfair burden of global warming on poor

Low-income countries need more help tackling the “vastly unequal” impacts of climate change, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns. 

In its latest World Economic Outlook report, the IMF explains how low-income nations will bear the economic brunt of global warming – despite contributing very little to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

The adverse consequences of higher temperatures will hit poorer countries the hardest and require further international collaboration to mitigate the damage.

Hits to agricultural output, labour productivity, capital accumulation and human health are all more likely in these countries, owing to the fact that they are often some of the hottest places on earth.

In addition, economic constraints mean they are less able to put in place effective adaptation strategies.

The report calls on the global community to mitigate GHG emissions before they create “more irreversible damage”.

“Rising temperatures would have vastly unequal effects across the world, with the brunt of adverse consequences borne by those who can least afford it,” it says.

“With advanced and emerging market economies contributing the lion’s share to the warming that has occurred so far, helping low-income countries cope with its consequences is a humanitarian imperative and sound global economic policy.”

A whole chapter was dedicated to this subject in the report, which warns that countries must invest in infrastructure, activity diversification and technology innovation to increase resilience.

It also says that populations may respond to changing climatic conditions by relocating geographically, which could have important cross-border ramifications, with climate change likely to create “economic winners and losers”. 

As well as suffering economically, it is thought that higher temperatures in already hot countries could potentially trigger more frequent epidemics, natural disasters, famines, armed conflict and refugee flows.

Adapting to these consequences necessitates vast investments, including boosting infrastructure, reinforcing coastal zones, and strengthening water supply and flood protection, the report says.

“The international community will have a key role to play in fostering and coordinating financial and other types of support for affected low-income countries,” it concludes.

 

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