thumbnail Global warming poses biggest threat to vulnerable communities

Urgent action is needed to help millions of people most at risk from the impacts of global warming, leading scientists have warned.

Representatives of the world’s governments meeting in Durban this week are being advised that immediate action is needed to reduce the vulnerability of communities worldwide likely to be worst affected by the impacts of climate change.

In a paper published in the academic journal Global Environmental Change, leading marine researchers from across the world are proposing a novel framework for helping the millions of people whose lives will be most affected by a warming climate.

Their proposal comes as representatives of 194 nations gather in Durban, South Africa, for the critical 17th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the signatories to the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change.

Based on a study of 1500 households in 29 coastal communities fringing the east African coast and islands of the western Indian Ocean, the researchers – including Newcastle University’s Professor Selina Stead - have developed a method for identifying the communities most vulnerable to climate change and prioritizing actions at local, national and international level to help them.

“In this region, climate change is not some distant possibility far into the future - it has already happened,” explains research lead Dr Josh Cinner of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) and James Cook University in Australia

“Extreme coral bleaching killed 90 per cent of the corals in some places and for the people whose lives rely on them – for food or employment – the impact can be devastating."

Professor Stead, Prof of Marine Governance and Environmental Science in the University’s School of Marine Science and Technology, adds: "This paper recognises that policy makers need pragmatic advice about what actions can help vulnerable human communities to prepare for impacts of climate change and demonstrates how scientific evidence can be used to find potential solutions for working towards sustainable marine ecosystem management.

“It will take a long time to implement global action to reduce carbon emissions, but action can be taken right away to help reduce the impacts on the world’s most vulnerable. COP17 provides a clear opportunity to make an early start.”

Click here to read the full press release


published on: 30th November 2011