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Zero poverty, zero emissions

Eradicating extreme poverty in the climate crisis

Key messages
• Eradicating extreme poverty is achievable by 2030, through growth and reductions in inequality. Sustained economic growth in developing countries is crucial for
poverty eradication, but it is likely to be more moderate and less effective in reducing extreme poverty in the coming decades than the prior ones. Addressing growth and inequality together is far more effective. This requires building poor people’s human capital (through nutrition, health and education) and assets, their access
to infrastructure, services, and jobs, and their political representation.

• Avoiding catastrophic climate change requires global emissions to peak by around 2030 and fall to near zero by 2100. Nearly all the IPCC’s mitigation scenarios indicate that the global economy must reach zero net greenhouse gas emissions before the century’s end to hold the global mean temperature rise to less than 2°C,
the limit beyond which the world will face ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference’ with the climate (UNFCCC 2009). Most of these scenarios require global emissions
to peak by around 2030, the deadline of our global poverty eradication target.

• Unchecked, climate change could draw up to 720 million people back into extreme poverty just as we approach the zero poverty goal. This estimate factors in only the most quantifiable impacts on the world’s extreme and moderately poor during the period 2030- 2050 if current emissions trends continue, heading toward 3.5oC mean temperature change by the century’s end.

• Poverty eradication cannot be maintained without deep cuts from the big GHG emitters. It is policy incoherent for big GHG emitting countries, especially industrialised ones, to support poverty eradication as a development priority, whether through domestic policy or international assistance, while failing to shift their own economy toward a zero net emissions pathway. The costs of adaptation simply become implausible beyond 2°C.

• Low emissions development is both necessary for, and compatible with, poverty eradication. The achievement of global zero net emissions requires action by countries across all levels of development, moving to development strategies that anticipate the need for declining emissions from 2030 toward the zero emissions goal. Evidence to date shows this is compatible with poverty eradication. In the regions of the world home to the extreme poor, studies show that most emissions reductions necessary by 2030 can enhance growth by anywhere between 1.4% and 3.9%.