San Francisco — Climate change threatens to undermine hard-won human development gains and the longer the world waits to act the more costly the damages and solutions will become, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said today.
Speaking at Stanford University in California, Helen Clark warned that without more coordinated global action to tackle climate change it will be increasingly hard to reduce poverty in all its dimensions and the costs of adaptation will also rise steeply everywhere.
"UNDP recognizes that the world's 2.6 billion poorest people will be hardest hit by climate change and that its impacts could reverse decades of human development gains unless pre-emptive action is taken," Miss Clark said.
"For the world to stay under the two degree Celsius increase in temperature, set as a threshold beyond which there is believed to be catastrophic and irreversible change to our climate, we all need to do much more, first to stabilise and then to reduce emissions radically," she said.
Helen Clark also announced UNDP's membership of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the first global effort to treat short-lived climate pollutants -such as black carbon (or soot), methane and many hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) - as an urgent and collective challenge.
The Coalition is a partnership between governments, non-governmental organizations and international entities and its 36 members include Bangladesh, Germany, Ghana, Sweden, USA, Stockholm Environment Institute, Climate Works Foundation and the UN Environment Programme.
"UNDP looks forward to working together with the Coalition partners to achieve widespread benefits for sustainable human development," Miss Clark said.
"All countries can act to head off the worst impacts of climate change while also generating new industries, jobs, more sustainable ways of living, thus laying the foundations for a more stable and peaceful world," she added.
Compelling scientific evidence indicates that fast action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon, has the potential to slow down the warming expected in the first half of this century by as much as 0.5°C.
Numerous focal areas for work by the Coalition seek to promote near-term reductions of short-lived climate pollutants at a substantial scale worldwide and engage high-level stakeholders. UNDP's contribution to the Coalition will focus on reducing the negative impacts of hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) on climate.
UNDP is currently implementing on-ground projects showcasing safe and energy-efficient technologies with low global warming potential in the air conditioning, refrigeration and foams sectors in India, Indonesia and Malaysia under a bilateral programme with the US Department of State.
The selection of the region and countries reflect their potential to serve as a platform for future adoption of alternative technologies and scale-up by industry internationally.
Future support for various HFC-related initiatives is expected from the Coalition and will supplement the funding from the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol and other sources, to achieve additional environmental goals, such as improved energy-efficiency and a lower overall climate footprint. Actions on HFCs are seen as most cost-effective, particularly if designed in parallel with the phase-out of HCFCs under the Montreal Protocol.
The Coalition is catalyzing rapid reductions in black carbon (or soot), methane and some HFCs to protect human health and the environment now and slow the rate of climate change within the first half of this century.