Former Archbishop speaks out on ‘injustice’ of climate change

Rowan Williams blames climate change on the West on eve of publication of latest UN climate report

Rowan Williams
(Image credit: WPA/Getty Images)

WESTERN lifestyles are to blame for the devastation caused by climate change, according to former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. His outspoken intervention comes on the eve of the publication of a United Nations climate study that is expected to warn that Africa, South America and Asia will suffer most over the coming decades.

Writing in the Telegraph, Dr Williams says “rich industrialised countries, including our own, have unquestionably contributed most” to the atmospheric pollution that has resulted in climate change.

Dr Williams shies away from overt criticism of climate change sceptics, but writes repeatedly of the injustice of climate change, observing that as devastating as the winter storms that hit the UK earlier this year were, such scenes are nothing new for millions of people around the planet: “There is a particularly bitter injustice about the fact that those suffering its worst ravages – such as the pastoralists of northern Kenya or the Quilombolas of Brazil, descendants of former slaves cultivating territories increasingly desolated by deforestation – have done least to contribute to it.”

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Dr Williams adds that unless we “step up the urgency of our response, profound injustice will be done both to the poor of today and to the entire global population of tomorrow”.

Scientists on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will tomorrow publish their latest report.

They are expected to say that the cost of combating the effects of a 2.5C rise in temperature by the end of the century - thought likely by many scientists - will be £60 billion a year. The report is thought to say that climate change will hit Africa, South America and Asia worst and predict droughts, food shortages and a rise in diseases such as malaria in coming decades.

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