Culture 4 min read

The World is Facing 'Climate Apartheid' Between the Rich and Poor!

A recent UN report claims that between rich and poor people, the latter may not survive climate change hazards while the rich can pay to escape.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

In a climate-challenged world, all of humanity is affected, albeit not equally. Unfortunately, between rich and poor people, the odds of surviving catastrophic climate changes would apparently favor those with enough wealth to buy their safety.

Well, it’s called global warming. Because of that, the scale of climate disruption covers not just one portion of our planet but every corner of it.

Simply put, we live on the same planet that’s been going haywire because of climate change. Pollution of the atmosphere, extreme weather events, melting glaciers, rising seawater, acidification of the oceans, extinction of species, and other environmental consequences of climate change would eventually affect everyone’s life.

But it stands to reason that the most vulnerable will be more affected. Already underprivileged and living in run-down areas with fewer resources, the poorest people will most likely be the defenseless victims of global warming hazards.

However, the extent of the consequence of this climate segregation system, especially in the coming years, remains to be seen.

A UN rapporteur warns against a world separated by the climate where the usual victims make the most of the body count.

Human Rights at Risk of Climate Apartheid

While they’re the least responsible for carbon emissions, the poor are likely the first to fall in the face of the global climate breakdown. Between rich and poor people, the rich will more likely to survive because they can afford to buy their way out of climate stress.

It doesn’t come as a surprise to know that the world’s wealthiest countries are the biggest polluters, in an extreme carbon inequality situation.

The 10 percent richest population of the world generate 50 percent of global emissions, while the poorest half of the worldwide population (around 3.5 billion people) contribute only 10 percent of global emissions.

There’s a “climate apartheid” system in the making, where the world’s richest and poorest aren’t climate-treated equally.

Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, doesn’t mince his words:

“Perversely, while people in poverty are responsible for just a fraction of global emissions, they will bear the brunt of climate change and have the least capacity to protect themselves. We risk a ‘climate apartheid’ scenario where the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer.”

Rich and Poor: Who Will Survive Climate Change?

Originally an Afrikaans word meaning separation or apartness, the term “apartheid” has gained popularity during the reign of the racial socio-political South African system.

Now it is rising to global-level and with a climate drive to boot. But, the target victims remain the same.

In the report, Alston said that climate change is threatening to undo the progress made in the last 50 years in terms of development, global health, and poverty reduction.

By 2030, climate change would have pushed 120 million more into poverty.

The UN expert is critical of the UN’s “patently inadequate” steps. He also criticized Donald Trump for “actively silencing” climate science, as well as Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president, for his plans to open the Amazon rainforest to mining.

According to Alston, global warming — in addition to the fundamental rights to life like water, food, and housing — will likely undermine democracy and render human rights vulnerable. Alston asserts:

“Most human rights bodies have barely begun to grapple with what climate change portends for human rights, and it remains one on a long laundry list of ‘issues’, despite the extraordinarily short time to avoid catastrophic consequences.”

Read More: Forget 12 Years! We May Have Only 18 Months to Save the Climate

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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