A United Nations expert has warned of a possible “climate apartheid”, where the rich pay to escape from hunger, “while the rest of the world is left to suffer”.
Even if current targets are met, “millions will be impoverished”, said Philip Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty BBC said.
He also criticised steps taken by UN bodies as “patently inadequate”.
“Ticking boxes will not save humanity or the planet from impending disaster,” Mr Alston warned.
The Australian native is part of the UN’s panel of independent experts and submitted his report which is based on existing research to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.
A key warning was that the world’s poor are likely to be hardest hit by rising temperatures and the potential food shortages and conflict that could accompany such a change.
Developing nations are expected to suffer at least 75 per cent of the costs of climate change despite the fact that the poorer half of the world’s population generate just 10 per cent of emissions.
Those “who have contributed the least to emissions will be the most harmed,” he said, warning that the effects could undo 50 years of progress on poverty reduction.
On the other hand, Mr Alston cites examples of how the wealthy in Western nations already cope with extreme weather events.
When Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012, most citizens were left without power, yet “the Goldman Sachs headquarters was protected by tens of thousands of its own sandbags and power from its generator.” Similarly, “private white-glove firefighters have been dispatched to save the mansions” of the wealthy.
This “over-reliance” on the private sector would likely lead to what he termed “climate apartheid” where the rich “escape overheating, hunger, and conflict”.
Mr Alston’s report heavily criticises the lack of action, despite such warnings, over the past several decades.