Memorandum submitted by Professor Martin
The attached documentation
shows that hundreds of millions of people are expected to be additionally
at risk as a consequence of climate change: due to water shortage,
hunger, coastal flooding and disease.
These risks to life and well-being
are concentrated in developing countries, especially those in
Africa and southern Asia. For example, of the 50 million people
estimated to be newly at risk from hunger due to climate change
by about 2050, almost all these are expected to be in Africa.
Even a substantial reduction in greenhouse
emissions does little to reduce such risks in the coming century.
Reductions that are 10 times those envisaged by the current Kyoto
targets might halve the number threatened, but it would require
an emissions cut double this (i.e. 20 times Kyoto) to bring risk
levels down from hundreds to tens of millions.
Consequently, the conclusion is that
substantial impacts from climate change are inevitable,
especially in developing countries, and adaptation will be essential
in order to avoid the most negative consequences. Mitigation alone
will not avoid the problem.
Yet ongoing research suggests that
the scale of such effects is very dependent on the future pathways
of population growth and economic development. A world with
a more equitable distribution of wealth and lower population levels
will experience much smaller levels of negative impact from climate
change, than a world where we assume "business-as-usual"
(eg high population growth and low levels of development in Africa
compared with other regions). In other words, how we shape the
future world influences our future vulnerability to climate change.
To illustrate, the estimated levels
of risk of hunger due to climate change under a sustainable
are less than a third those under a "business-as-usual"
world. Almost all this reduction is due to different levels of
population and wealth rather than different amounts of emissions
and consequent climate change.
This suggests that the most effective
form of response to climate change is to devise climate policies
as part of an overall strategy for sustainable development that,
by both reducing poverty and increasing technological/managerial
ability, reduce the exposure to hunger, flooding, water shortage
and disease, and also increase the ability to adapt to such challenges.
Professor Martin Parry,
Jackson Environment Institute,
School of Environmental Sciences, University of
1 See M Parry, N Arnell, T McMichael, R Nicholls,
P Martens, S Kovats, M Livermore, C Rosenzweig, A Iglesias and
G Fischer, Millions at Risk: Defining Critical Climate
Change Threats and Targets, Global Environmental Change 11.3
(2001): 1-3. Also available at http://www.jei.uea.ac.uk/millions_at_risk.html. Back
The sustainable world here is that defined by the IPCC as B2,
and "business-as-usual" is A1FI (Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change, Climate Change 2001: Synthesis Report, Geneva,