Who is vulnerable, and who is not? The map of the UN Climate Group faces criticism

Women walk through a flooded street in Pakistan. The IPCC report paints a grim picture of how humanity is being threatened.

The UN Climate Group has named 3.3 to 3.6 billion people as the most vulnerable to climate change. But how that group is determined is debatable. Is this mainly a political choice?

I amAnd origin Recent Climate Report The UN Climate Science Panel (IPCC), a major scientific body, has for the first time identified how many people are most affected by climate change. The IPCC speaks of 3.3 to 3.6 billion people – almost half of the world’s population.

It IPCC Report It paints a grim picture of how humanity is threatened. It also seems to attack a nerve.

A map showing how scientists came to this number has been published Many national representatives Removed from summary of report for policy classifiers. The card can be misaligned and complicated.

Across Africa

For example, on the map, a large part of the African continent is depicted in red due to ‘high’ vulnerability, while the Caribbean islands are depicted as less vulnerable.

The latter are threatened by severe hurricanes and sea level rise, but they have relatively more resources and infrastructure to cope with climate extremes. Australia, where of course recently Twenty people were killed in the floodsIt is classified as one of the safest places in the world.

This category affects both countries’ pride – which no country wants to see as a case of hopelessness – and access to resources. Rich countries have agreed to provide financial assistance to developing countries, especially vulnerable ones, through the UN Climate Agreement. But how this vulnerability is measured is not acknowledged.

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Although IPCC reports do not recommend policies, they can affect decisions about which countries are eligible for specialized treatment.

A political question

This form provides a ‘simplified perspective’ of global impact, he says Jோர்rn BirkmanHe is one of the leading authors of the co-ordination of the report and is associated with the University of Stuttgart, where he studies climate impacts.

“There is no one truth when it comes to vulnerability because there are all sorts of different possible explanations.

For example, the classification shows that Micronesia is more vulnerable than Australia, even though ‘Australia has been hit hard by floods. That’s an important message, “he said.

Defining the impact, he says, is a ‘political question’ Richard Klein, Senior Researcher at the Stockholm Environmental Institute. “There is no one truth when it comes to vulnerability because there are all sorts of different possible interpretations. Indicators can tell you anything you want to say. ‘

The IPCC report defines vulnerability as “inclination or predisposition to adversely affect” and “lack of competence”. [met klimaatverandering] Go and themselves [daaraan] To fix ‘.

The figure of 3.3 to 3.6 billion corresponds to the population of the countries ranked in the two most vulnerable stages (fifth). Mozambique, Somalia, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Haiti are labeled “highest” and India, Pakistan and the Philippines are labeled “highest”.

Not personal

The authors looked at the regression and adaptability of each country as a whole.

In contrast, 1.8 to 2 billion people live in countries classified as low or very weak. The latter category includes the UK, Australia, Canada and Sweden.

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Author Birkman: ‘We do not provide a specific vulnerability label for specific individuals. We are not saying that all people in Chad or Afghanistan are vulnerable. ‘ The authors saw the regression and adaptability of each country as a whole. And it depends on growth criteria rather than climatic conditions.

The classification is based on indicators Report the risk code And this World Risk CodeIt addresses factors such as basic infrastructure and health care, nutrition, extreme poverty, literacy rate, inequality, governance and corruption.

It does not take into account the manifestations of sea level rise, storm, heat pressure or flood. Risk analyzes are also low. This shows a lack of consensus on how to compare the severity of different climate hazards.

Differences within countries

Some countries have expressed concern that differences within countries cannot be calculated by national averages. Others view the criteria of personality and corruption as biased against rich nations.

Debra Roberts, Co-chair of the IPCC Task Force on Climate Impact and Adaptation, defends the approach. As leader of sustainable and flexible urban initiatives in the South African city of Durban, he is aware of the policy implications of the division.

He says vulnerability assessment is useful “because it gives us an idea of ​​the extent of the problem.” Although the map is based on only a few indicators, they indicate that ‘the broader story, i.e. our foundations are in danger’.

‘Specific demographic data make no fundamental difference to the global picture.’

The IPCC recognizes the limits of vulnerability classification nationally, and states that there are more vulnerable groups in less vulnerable countries. In North America, for example, urban ethnic minorities, immigrants and Native Americans Mostly in climate-hazardous zones. Also in Europe, poor families and the elderly are most affected by floods and heat stress.

However, these particular figures do not make a fundamental difference to the global picture, Birkman says. Countries such as the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom have the financial capacity to mitigate the impact of these groups. “Not so in Somalia.”

Researcher Klein argues that access to resources and the ability to respond to climate disasters do not mean that a government will use them optimally. ‘I think it would be helpful to be more clear about what makes people vulnerable; Not land. More people need to devise better adaptation strategies that will have less impact. And it’s a different story, “he concludes.

This article first appeared on IPS Partner Climate Home News

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