Why political voting matters for climate change

We can vote and campaign for policies that effectively tackle climate change [4]. Governments can provide the money to fuel scientific advances and apply penalties to highly-polluting businesses [3] and can, to some extent, encourage changes in lifestyle [2].

What about all the other problems that society faces [1]? You might wonder if we should prioritise reducing poverty [7] or the provision of clean drinking water [5] over tackling climate change. In fact, all these issues overlap and interact with each other [6].

Climate change will make other problems worse, like food and water insecurity [8]. In the absence of strong action to adapt to climate change, it’s expected that failing crops, natural disasters, and disease will cause 100 million people to fall back into poverty by 2030 [10].

Therefore, taking action against climate change helps us better manage a range of global problems [9].

On the other hand, as countries develop and more people escape poverty, it is likely that their personal emissions will go up as they consume more, adding to climate change [11, 12].

Clearly the relationship between climate change and poverty is complicated. We want to bring people out of poverty, but we have to do so in a sustainable way [13, 14, 15].


[1] https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300 Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs Knowledge Platform 2019

[2] https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/14924809.pdf Sustainable Consumption, Behaviour Change Policies and Theories of Practice, Evans et al. 2012. Within paper see: Abstract

[3] http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi= Environmental and Technology Policies for Climate Mitigation, Fischer and Newell et al. 2007. Within paper see: Abstract

[4] https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2019/06/05/concern-environment-record-highs Concern for the environment at record highs, YouGov 2019

[5] https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg6 Sustainable Development Goal 6, SDGs Knowledge Platform 2019

[6] https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2017EF000632 A Systematic Study of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Interactions, Pradhan et al. 2017. Within paper see: Abstract

[7] https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg1 Sustainable Development Goal 1, SDGs Knowledge Platform 2019

[8] https://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2017/wp152_2017.pdf Climate Change and Social Inequality, Islam and Winkel 2017. Within paper see: 2.2 Discussion of effects of climate change on poverty and livelihood

[9] https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2017EF000632 A Systematic Study of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Interactions, Pradhan et al. 2017. Within paper see especially: 3.1 Synergies and Trade‐Offs within an SDG and 3.2 Synergies and Trade‐Offs Between SDGs

[10] https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/22787/9781464806735.pdf Sock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty. World Bank. Hallegatte et al. 2016. See: E.g. A Window of Opportunity: Climate-Informed Development and Pro-Poor Climate Policies, Main messages and Introduction

[11] https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, Our World in Data, 2019. See: CO2 emissions and prosperity, CO2 and poverty alleviation

[12] https://oi-files-d8-prod.s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/file_attachments/mb-extreme-carbon-inequality-021215-en.pdf Extreme carbon Inequality: Why the Paris climate deal must put the poorest, lowest emitting and most vulnerable people first, Oxfam 2015. See: Summary and Box 2: Estimating the distribution of lifestyle consumption emissions

[13] https://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/presspb2018d8_en.pdf Leapfrogging: look before you leap, UNCTA 2018

[14] https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/APP_REPORT_2015_FINAL_low1.pdf Power people planet: Seizing Africa’s energy and climate opportunities: Africa Progress Report 2015, Africa Progress Panel, 2015. See: More power with equity – Africa’s energy challenge

[15] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-019-0519-4 Tackling climate change to accelerate sustainable development. Zhenmin and Espinosa, 2019. Nature Climate Change.

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