Climate change 'could ruin drive to eradicate poverty'

Lord May of Oxford, the president of the Royal Society, said the cost of dealing with the adverse effects of climate change could soak up all the aid to African countries.

In an open letter to G8 environment ministers who are to meet in London on 1 November, Lord May warns that the Gleneagles agreement on aid and debt relief to Africa could amount to nothing.

"As long as greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise, there is the very real prospect that the increase in aid agreed at Gleneagles will be entirely consumed by the mounting cost of dealing with the added burden of adverse effects of climate change in Africa," Lord May said.

"In effect, the Gleneagles communiqué gave hope to Africa with one hand, through a promise of more aid but took that hope away with the other hand through its failure to address adequately the threat of climate change," he said.

At the Gleneagles summit in July, G8 leaders agreed on a package of measures to help to lift Africa out of poverty but kept that separate from an action plan on climate change.

"But the action plan on climate change fell far short of a strategy to stop the rise in greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere," he added.

At the Gleneagles summit, President George Bush, an arch-sceptic of global warming, did not want climate change to be connected with aid to Africa and managed to separate it from the joint communiqué.

However, Lord May, a former chief scientific adviser to the Government, warned that there is mounting scientific evidence to show that global warming is the biggest single threat to the world today - especially developing countries.

The latest study, published today ,reveals for instance that the rise in man-made greenhouse gases may already be responsible for an increase in drought conditions and risk of famine in eastern Africa.

Lord May cites the results of research by James Verdin of the US Geological Survey who found that rainfall has decreased steadily since 1996 in Ethiopia and neighbouring countries which coincides with a corresponding increase in surface-water temperatures in the southern Indian Ocean.

"The researchers point out that this reduction in rainfall is adversely affecting the growth of crops and increasing the number of people who require food aid," Lord May said.

"This finding has particular resonance, coming as it does 20 years after a severe famine in Ethiopia attracted worldwide attention through Live Aid and other events that pricked the collective conscience of richer developed countries," he added.

"In short, the scientific evidence now presents a more compelling case than ever before for tackling the threat from climate change by stopping the rise of greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere."

Richer countries have a responsibility to do something about climate change by stabilising the rise in greenhouse gas emissions that they are primarily responsible for, he said.

"Therefore, if the increase in aid and other measures outlined in the Gleneagles action plan on Africa are to create the maximum benefit, they must be accompanied by effective action on climate change by stopping the inexorable rise in greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere," Lord May said.

A major failing in the communiqué was that it did not acknowledge the importance of securing an agreement on stabilising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Lord May warns G8 environment ministers that without a definition of target concentrations of greenhouse gases, discussions about national emissions targets are nothing more than an academic dispute.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
health
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
News
news
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine