General Studies – 2; Topic: Poverty and hunger;
Climate Change and Poverty
Climate change hits the poorest people the hardest, those living in vulnerable areas with the fewest
resources to help them adapt or recover quickly from shocks.
Up to 122 million more people worldwide could be living in extreme poverty by 2030 as a result of
climate change and its impacts on small-scale farmers’ incomes, a major UN report warned.
2) Dimensions of poverty
Often the dimensions that are considered to assess poverty include living standards, assets, health,
income, consumption and status in their societies.
But the measures such as nutrition, quality houses, access to energy services and drinking water,
level of education, jobs, and social conditions such as caste all become relevant when one tries to
understand the different manifestations of poverty.
MPI (Multidimensional Poverty Index), developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development
Initiative (OPHI) looks at the dimensions of education, health and standard of living, giving them all
MPI help us to estimate not only how many people are poor, but also the quality and depth of their
Planning Commission estimated poverty in India to be at 22% of the population in 2011-12.
Whereas, MPI for India calculated using India Human Development Survey data of 2011-12,
estimates that 41% of the people were multi-dimensionally poor.
3) How future Climate change will affect the poor?
a. The adverse effects of climate change are droughts, floods, heat waves, sea level rise and
related problems are food shortages, spread of diseases, loss of jobs and migration.
b. These will harmfully affect the poorest and further deteriorate the quality of their lives.
c. Numerous studies have shown that the poor suffer the worst effects from climate variability
and climate change.
a. The poorest are the most affected by severe droughts that lead to food shortages and higher
a. The countries with the fewest resources are likely to bear the greatest burden of climate
change in terms of investment and the economy. Example, El Niño affecting agriculture and
As the impacts of climate change worsen, it will become harder to eliminate poverty. That leaves a
narrow window for ending extreme poverty.
Climate change will further reduce access to drinking water and negatively affect the health of poor
people in many countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Climate variability and climate change impacts can prevent us from reaching and maintaining the
‘climate-proofing’ sustainable development efforts are important. Current efforts should remain
relevant in the face of future climate impacts.
Adaptation programmes ought to be designed so that challenges faced by people living in poverty
are recognised and reduced.
Ex: A district with severe nutritional deficiency along with drought from climate change, then the
focus ought to be on improving local food access and managing water efficiently to prepare for
future water shortages.
Similarly, sanitation and housing ought to be improved in future flooding areas and use appropriate
design strategies that are resilient to water-logging.
Improved governance, including an active civil society and open, transparent, and accountable
policy and decision making processes.
Mainstreaming climate issues into all national, sub-national, and sectoral planning processes.
Empowerment of communities so that they can participate in assessments and feed in their
knowledge to provide useful climate-poverty information.
Vulnerability assessments that fully address the different shades and causes of poverty.
Access to good quality information about the impacts of climate change. This is key for effective
poverty reduction strategies.
Increasing the resilience of livelihoods and infrastructure as a key component of an effective
poverty reduction strategy.
2016 State of Food and Agriculture report states that without “widespread adoption of sustainable
land, water, fisheries and forestry practices, global poverty cannot be eradicated”.
Carbon pricing, for example, help lower emissions and can create a revenue stream from that can
be used to help the poor offset any rise in fuel or energy prices.
Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies can also help lower emissions and free up government spending for
more targeted support for the poor.
Measuring poverty through its different dimensions would help policymakers figure out which
aspects of poverty expose the poor and exacerbate their vulnerability to climate change.
Through such a process, India could also serve as a standard for other poor and developing
countries that are beginning to think about inclusive “climate proofed development”.
Today agriculture holds the key to solving the two greatest challenges facing humanity: eradicating
poverty and maintaining the stable climatic corridor”.