The first installment of the 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change offered scientific evidence of a rapidly warming climate and the human hand behind it. The second part, released 28 February, clearly describes the profound socio-economic impacts of climate change on low-income countries and communities.
The latest report predicts that climate change will push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty in the next decade alone, endangering access to water, food security, livelihoods and health. It finds that: “vulnerability is higher in locations with poverty, governance challenges and limited access to basic services and resources, violent conflict and high levels of climate-sensitive livelihoods.” For instance, mortality from droughts and storms in 2010-2020 was 15 times greater in highly vulnerable countries than in countries with low vulnerability.
Such vulnerability is “driven by patterns of intersecting socio-economic development, unsustainable ocean and land use, inequity, marginalization, historical and ongoing patterns of inequity such as colonialism,” the report says.
Reflecting on the report, Sauca emphasized that “every attempt to fight climate change must be an attempt to fight for justice.”
Sauca added: “The WCC has for decades witnessed the injustice that climate change brings. The vulnerable and impoverished are at the very centre of our mission and work as churches and people of faith. They are our brothers and sisters. We are not true to our calling as Christians if we are not doing everything we can to prevent the global temperature from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
Meeting the global goal of 1.5 degree Celsius warming would still entail adaptation on a massive scale, the report points out. It estimates that developing countries will require USD 127 billion in adaptation finance by 2030 and more than double that amount by 2050. In some parts of the planet, ecosystems and communities have already reached limits to adaptation, where no existing adaptation measures can avert losses and damages.
Looking towards the COP 27 summit to be held in November 2022, Sauca strongly reiterated calls made by the WCC executive committee for wealthier, industrialised countries “to make good on their promises, and provide the funding (as grants, not loans) commensurate both with the need and with their historic responsibility for the loss and damage already suffered by vulnerable poorer countries.”
According to the science, the more we delay the more we limit our adaptation options. Sauca stressed, “There is no excuse to wait to transform our world and carve out a just, sustainable and climate-resilient path to the future. The urgent call for climate justice is a cry from the Earth and from the poor. We must heed these cries.”
Climate justice is high on the agenda of the upcoming WCC 11th Assembly in Karslruhe with the theme, “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.”
“Now more than ever, we need to bridge the gaps between rich and poor and between people and all creation,” Sauca reflected.