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Tuesday, October 4, 2016, 10:11

UN: Climate change spreading divide

By Xinhua

UN: Climate change spreading divide
In this June 19, 2015 file photo, a Syrian refugee child walks at a refugee camp in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria bor der. (AP Photo / Emrah Gurel, File)
UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations on Monday said that evidence is increasing that climate change is taking the biggest toll on poor and vulnerable people, and these impacts are largely caused by inequalities that increase the risks from climate hazards.

The statement was contained in a new UN report, the World Economic and Social Survey 2016: Climate Change Resilience - an Opportunity for Reducing Inequalities, produced by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

"Sadly, the people at greater risk from climate hazards are the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized who, in many cases, have been excluded from socioeconomic progress," noted UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the report.

EXTENSIVE IMPACT

Over the past 20 years, 4.2 billion people have been affected by weather-related disasters, including a significant loss of lives, the report said, adding that developing countries are the most affected by climate change impacts.

Low-income countries suffered the greatest losses, including economic costs estimated at 5 percent of gross domestic product.

Specifically, the report found that families living in poverty systematically occupy the least desirable land to damage from climate hazards, such as mud slides, periods of abnormally hot water, water contamination and flooding.

Climate change has the potential to worsen their situation and thereby worsen pre-existent inequalities, the report said, adding that structural inequalities increase the exposure of vulnerable groups to climate hazards.

According to the latest data, 11 percent of the world's population lived in a low-elevation coastal zone in 2000.

Many of them were poor and compelled to live in flood plain because they lacked the resources to live in safer areas. The data also underscore that in many countries in South and East Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, many people have no other option than to erect their dwellings on precarious hill slopes.

The report also found a larger concentration of poor and marginalized groups in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid aridity zones which cover about 40 percent of the Earth's land surface. About 29 percent of the world's population live in those areas and are facing additional challenges owing to climate change.

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