By BBC News online health and wellbeing editor Dan Martin
The solution lies in income inequality, say researchers
How wealthy people can help fight climate change Unless we dramatically scale up carbon capture and storage technologies, the world faces catastrophic temperatures rises by 2100, according to new research. And if we can make the change quicker, it could save hundreds of millions of lives, the Lancet Commission concludes. Carbon capture and storage involves traps and disposes of carbon dioxide in a process which is already very common in the US. In contrast, the farming industry and a range of other sectors are waiting decades for their own plant-grown technologies to come along. ‘Close to home’ So why should people care? If we could make the change quicker, it could save hundreds of millions of lives, the Lancet Commission concludes. We should be discussing this quite openly – those of us with assets and those without
Dr Andrew Foster, Global Commission On The Future The Commission is a group of leading scientists, doctors and business leaders who look at global issues like health, wealth and development. We looked at the data at the source, and we asked the world’s wealthiest leaders what they can do to support developing nation’s efforts. A lot of responses were politically difficult, but we know many rich people, such as Bill Gates, have taken action in their own firms to help the developing world. Action is still needed in many sectors, and it isn’t likely to come to the top of the agenda until middle-class people feel they are making a real difference. “The problems at the frontiers of our time are many, very complex and need leaders from different backgrounds, of different interests, to work together to solve them,” said Professor Raed Salah, chair of the commission. “However, when it comes to carbon capture and storage, we should be discussing this quite openly – those of us with assets and those without. “Getting leaders like Bill Gates to cut greenhouse gas emissions and find new sources of energy can have a direct impact on development and help the planet in the long term.” However, many of the world’s large polluters – such as BP and Shell – are happy to wait – if for no other reason than that their profits depend on heavy use of fossil fuels. Rich and poor Andrew Foster, an international expert on health and the environment, said one of the most interesting responses the commission received was from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She asked that we increase the funding of carbon capture and storage – and hope her country takes on more responsibility to ensure that the projects are developed around the world. Ms Merkel has acted largely behind the scenes so far, but one of the Commission’s conclusions is that carbon capture and storage will only work if many countries see a need to act now, and to financially support the transition to the new systems. “Clearly we have to raise significant financial resources,” said Dr Foster. “It’s crucial that big companies take on a role in taking over projects, rather than letting them die in the current climate of uncertainty and cost avoidance. “We need major countries that are individually not able to act to take on a leadership role,” he added.
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