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Global Cooperation needed on Climate Change

Climate change negotiators meeting next week in Marrakech need to build a global coalition to enhance the adaptation ability already shown by communities vulnerable to climate change.

"The impacts of climate change are significant whether you herd goats in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco or work in a river-side office block in central London," says Dr Neil Adger, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and University of East Anglia. "Climate change is arguably the most persistent threat to global stability in the coming century."

Dr Adger says that negotiators meeting at the 7th Conference of Parties (COP7) in Morocco will focus on emission reduction targets to prevent climate change, but they must not forget the need to adapt to climate change. "Action is needed to bolster the inherent resilience of people in the developing world. Negotiators need to help people to help themselves and to build a global coalition to take action on climate change."

He says that although all societies need to learn to cope with the changes in climate predicted by scientists, the impacts of climate change are not evenly spread - the regions most at risk of future hazards are inhabited by the poorest people. "But the people of developing nations are not passive victims," he says. "Indeed, in the past they have had the greatest resilience to droughts, floods and other catastrophes. For example, pastoralists in the West African Sahel have adapted to cope with rainfall decreases last century of a quarter to a third. This ability to adapt needs to be enhanced because the rate of climate change faced by people will accelerate unless we radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

In light of the need to enhance adaptation, humanitarian relief groups, UK government departments and climate scientists are gathering in London this Thursday (25 October) to seek common ground. Co-organiser Dr Saleemul Huq, from International Institute for Environment and Development in London, says the meeting will explore the similar goals of those working in climate adaptation and those in sustainable development. "We will tackle just one question: how can we enhance the capacity of people in developing countries to adapt to the global threat of climate change?"

University of East Anglia. October 23, 2001.

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