…issues of moral responsibility and social justice, by focusing on evidence that climate disruptions will most harm the people who have contributed least to the problem. Such concerns led Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, to declare that climate change is “an unconscionable assault on the poor” in a report to the Human Rights Council in June. Figueres says the youth activists are absolutely correct and totally justified in their anger. The question is whether righteous anger can push society to make immensely difficult and urgent decisions. “This transformation needs to happen in the next ten years,” she says, “and it has to involve everyone.”
Climate change’s heavy toll
As global temperatures rise, they put billions of people at risk of heatwaves, water shortages and a range of other problems. And these impacts fall hardest on the poorest and most vulnerable people. The map below shows the cumulative risks from major climate impacts with 2 °C of warming; the chart estimates how many people would be affected by a selection of those risks.Source: IPCC/E. Byers et al. Environ. Res. Lett. 13, 055012 (2018).