Monday, August 20, 2012
THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE RENDER WOMEN AND THE POOR PARTICULARLY MORE VULNERABLE
By Stella Kigozi Makumbi – Senior Programme Officer Population Secretariat Climate change refers to a change in the statistical distribution of weather over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It can be a change in the average weather or a change in the distribution of weather events around an average (for example, greater or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change may be limited to a specific region, or may occur across the whole earth. In recent years, climate change has been increasingly referred to as ‘global warming’ or ‘anthropogenic global warming’(AGW). Climate change is amulti-dimensional problem whose causes and consequences are clearly related to the present development model. While affecting people generally, the impacts of climate change render women and the poor particularly more vulnerable. The burning of fossil fuels since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution has substantially increased the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hence the term ‘carbon emissions.’ The main green house gases in the earth’s atmosphere are water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone. Green house gases greatly affect the temperature of the earth, without them, earth’s surface would be on average about 33 degrees centigrade colder than at present. Carbon emissions are increased by the daily or ‘routine’ human activity such as heating, cutting down of trees, so, the more the numbers, the higher the emissions as well. It is increasingly becoming realized that climate change is not only an issue of energy efficiency or Industrial Carbon Emissions, but also an issue of population dynamics, poverty and gender equity. The adverse effects of climate change are increasingly being experienced at different magnitudes by different countries all over the world, leading to loss of lives through floods, heat waves, disease outbreaks, loss of bio-diversity, increased precipitation. Both developed and developing nations are experiencing the brunt of climate change impacts which have been predicted to get worse if corrective measures are not undertaken. However, the impacts of climate change will be most felt by developing countries due to the fact that a large share of their economies are in climate sensitive sectors and their lower capacity to adapt because of a lack of financial, institutional and technological capacity and access to knowledge. Climate change is a serious threat to development everywhere. Indeed, the adverse impacts of climate change could undo much of the Millennium Development Goals. By being creative, countries can reduce emissions while promoting economic growth. It is also an opportunity to advance sustainable development, encourage new kinds of cleaner technologies, industries and jobs, and integrate climate change risks into national policies and practices.