Climate change impacts literally everyone, as it alters our planet entirely. However, those living in poverty are impacted in an even greater way than the average citizen of Earth. That’s why the Earth Day Network has partnered with the Global Poverty Project for today’s Global Citizen Earth Day event in Washington, DC.
While we all feel the effects of extreme weather, droughts, and the depletion of resources due to climate change, for some these shifts are a matter of life and death. The poor have less ability to react and adapt to the changes brought on by climate change and many rely on agricultural means to survive. A study by Brookings over 25 years in India found that 44% of families who fell into poverty blamed weather events as a contributing factor. The impoverished also tend to live in the most vulnerable areas, like those prone to flooding or landslides, because they are most affordable. Erosion and rising water levels will put these regions even more at risk and in some cases may completely overtake them or destroy them in the near future.
A recent UN report estimated that poor countries will need $100 billion per year to make the necessary adaptations for climate change by 2020. The World Bank is working on developing plans to raise funds dedicated to aiding the poor and helping them fight against climate change, including ones that will also aid the planet. Plans like carbon taxes on polluters that encourage lessening their impact while raising funds supporting the impoverished, and the reduction in fuel subsidies with the savings used to support the poor are among the ideas being considered. According to the World Bank, fossil fuel subsidies are exceptionally inefficient, with the richest 20% receiving six times the benefits of the poorest 20%.
So what can you do to help? The Global Poverty Project aims to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 and they are recruiting citizens of the world to pledge their help. Since they began in August 2012, 400,000 people have joined and pledged more than 2.75 million actions, including more than 35 victories. You can take a pledge and join this movement to end poverty and combine it with your efforts to save the planet. One effort, Live Below The Line, encourages participants to live on the $1.25 per day that signifies the poverty line for 5 days to experience the hardships facing the poor. An added effect is the reduction in consumption that will come with limiting your lifestyle, from using less energy and eating less food to choosing cheap public transportation or carbon-free walking over driving your car.
Today’s event hopefully brings the plight of the poor and the planet greater exposure and launches many on the path towards the solution. Even if you’re not in attendance in Washington, DC, you can join the cause. We are all Global Citizens.