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Cut flying and help the poor, says Christian Aid

02 November 2006

MASS MIGRATION to Europe of Africans is predicted, as global warming threatens hopes of making poverty history, and of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, says the latest Christian Aid report.

The report, The Climate of Poverty, warns that global warming will cause poverty, famine, and disease. "There will be mass migrations of people from Africa in search of food. Europe should be prepared. We are going either to prosper together or perish together when climate change comes," says Professor Eric Odada in the report.

Professor Odada is regional director for climate-change research in Africa at the International Council for Science, based in Paris.

Twenty-five million of the world's refugees, more than half, already owe their displacement to climate change. Christian Aid reports the view that the number is about to get much higher, causing "major social and economic upheaval and conflict".

Andrew Pendleton, one of the authors of the report, said on Tuesday that only the better off would come to Europe. "What we are already seeing in Africa are the massive problems caused by rural-to-urban migration."

To reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, Christian Aid was relocating staff to the countries where it was working. The charity's flights accounted for 797 tonnes of carbon dioxide two years ago, and 686 tonnes last year. Over the three years, it wanted to cut emissions from flying by one third. It called on the Government to achieve a cut of three per cent a year each year, Mr Pendleton said.

The report says that switching to renewable sources of energy will help to reduce the rate of global warming and increase wealth for poor people at home. "Renewables do not contribute to greenhouse-gas emissions: they are cheaper than oil will become, and they literally empower people to climb out of poverty and reach the MDGs. For these reasons, renewables are simply the only option that makes sense for poor people," the report argues.

"Christian Aid believes that tapping non-carbon sources of power like solar, wind, hydro-, biofuels, and geothermal, as well as using existing energy more efficiently, is essential if developing countries are to escape the twin dangers of climate change and poverty."

National grids waste huge amounts of energy, says the report: the UK loses 65 per cent of the power it generates. But one third of the world's population is "off grid", and local use of renewables, as in the Solar Electric Light Fund and the Jigawa Alternative Energy Fund in northern Nigeria, delivers power to help rejuvenate village economies.

The World Bank could fund small-scale solar installations for 20 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. A large-scale solar thermal power station could produce the energy of five million barrels of oil over its lifetime, says the report.

The Climate of Poverty: Facts, fears and hope is available at www.christianaid.org.uk/indepth/605caweek/index.htm

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