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A climate of inequity

Mara Hvistendahl

11th October, 2007

While governments argue over responsibility for global warming, development experts are thinking about the humanitarian consequences for the world’s poor. Mara Hvistendahl reports from the United Nations.

Every September, delegates from 2,000 NGOs descend on the United Nations in New York to discuss a topic of global importance. In keeping with the international attention the issue has garnered lately – from Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth to the British government’s Stern Review – this year’s topic was climate change.

Discussion veered away from the political and economic concerns that have largely shaped international meetings on the topic, however. While governments have been arguing over responsibility for greenhouse-gas emissions, securing their ports against flooding and scrambling to stake out claims to the Arctic, the delegates at this year’s NGO conference, held at UN headquarters in New York earlier this month, focused on how climate change is impacting the world’s underprivileged.

Climate change disproportionately affects poor nations, which tend to be clustered around the equator. In the coming decades, climate scientists...


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