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
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before