Accessibility links

Human Development Report 2007/2008 – Fighting climate change: human solidarity in a divided world

The Human Development Report 2007/2008 presents an overview of the threat posed by climate change in the 21st century and the need for a concerted, immediate response by governments around the world. It paints a bleak picture of the consequences of inaction, particularly in forming a post-Kyoto framework beyond 2012. The report is intended to inform and influence policy; it provides context of the causes and risks of climate change and explores the various aspects of national and international mitigation and adaptation policies.

The report begins by explaining the current scientific understanding of climate change. It then presents alternative pathways for the future: the potential for a sustainable level of emissions and the consequences of continuing a business-as-usual approach. It stresses that mitigation is possible, both technically and monetarily, as long as social and political barriers are overcome. The report discusses the rising trend of climate disasters and the development trap that can occur, locking people into cycles of vulnerability and crisis. It warns that potential setbacks to human development could accelerate as feedback effects mutually reinforce various climate change related impacts.

The findings regarding strategies for mitigation highlight the importance of implementing market-based approaches to reducing emissions, be it through taxation and/or cap-and-trade. However, this alone will not be enough, supportive legislation and international cooperation are also required, particularly with regard to formulating a post-Kyoto agreement that includes provision for finance and technology transfer and halting deforestation. As well as stringent mitigation, adaptation will be key in limiting the damage and ensuring continued human development for the 21st century. The report concludes that with their historic responsibility for carbon emissions and their disproportionate carbon footprints, rich countries have a moral duty to help the world’s poor for whom the effects of climate change will be particularly harsh.