Press Release

RELEASE: Reducing Poverty Through Climate Action

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress and Climate Advisers released a new report that assesses the challenges of poverty and climate change and identifies opportunities to jointly tackle these challenges.

Countries around the world have a tremendous opportunity to design a new global development agenda when the Millennium Development Goals—eight voluntary goals agreed to in 2000 by leaders from 191 countries—expire in 2015. Once agreed upon, the post-2015 goals will serve as a road map through 2030 for countries, local governments, development institutions, and the private sector to stamp out poverty and support sustainable development.

According to a March report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, climate change is already affecting every continent across the globe, and people living in developing countries will fare far worse than most in a warmer world. An April IPCC report identifies many different options that countries can pursue now to reduce emissions and avoid the crippling costs of inaction. These options also provide energy access, reduce local air pollution, and support sustainable development.

“The year 2015 offers an extraordinary opportunity to tackle the world’s two most pressing challenges—poverty and climate change,” said Molly Elgin-Cossart, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. “Transformational change is within reach if world leaders take action on a set of ambitious global goals and targets.”

The report recommends that countries adopt the following ambitious yet achievable targets to measure progress against the new global development goals once they are enacted in 2015, through their expected expiration date in 2030:

  • Reduce global postharvest and supply-chain food loss and waste, including bycatch in commercial fisheries, by 50 percent.
  • Eliminate the practice of overfishing in ocean and freshwater fisheries, rebuild overfished populations to sustainable levels, and end all illegal and unreported fishing.
  • Increase water efficiency in agriculture by 25 percent.
  • Build community resilience and reduce deaths and economic losses from natural hazards by 50 percent, while improving the accuracy and lead times of forecasts and warnings by 50 percent.
  • Ensure universal access to modern energy services.
  • Double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
  • Double the share of renewable energy in the global mix.
  • Phase out inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption and production.
  • Ensure that no natural forest is lost.
  • Guarantee secure tenure and rights, including customary rights, to land and other assets for men and women.
  • Reduce loss of coastal wetlands by 50 percent, set aside 15 percent of the world’s oceans as marine-protected areas, and eliminate fisheries subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity.
  • Ensure that at least 20 percent of the world’s terrestrial lands and inland waters are equitably managed and conserved.
  • Reduce the incidence of morbidity and mortality from indoor and outdoor air pollution by 50 percent.

“The latest science makes clear that if countries miss this chance to craft a new global development agenda focused on both ending poverty and addressing climate change, they are likely to undo decades of progress in the fight against poverty, hunger, and economic insecurity,” said Cathleen Kelly Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. “In fact, locking in a new global development agenda that doesn’t tackle poverty and climate change together is like building a new community on a melting ice sheet.”

“What you measure is what you get—which means that the post-2015 goals can alleviate poverty and give climate change the high-level attention it deserves by setting ambitious, measurable targets in sectors that drive heat-trapping emissions,” said Abigail Jones, Managing Director at Climate Advisers. “For example, if we include targets that focus on conserving natural forests and legally recognizing customary land rights, we would strengthen climate resilience and cut carbon pollution, while making critical progress on poverty and economic growth. It would give vulnerable populations the biggest possible benefit in both the short and long terms.”

Read the analysis: Reducing Poverty Through Climate Action by Molly Elgin-Cossart, Cathleen Kelly, and Abigail Jones

To speak to an expert on this topic, contact Anne Shoup at [email protected] or 202.481.7146 or Joel Finkelstein at [email protected] or 202.285.0113.