The climate crisis is making global economic inequality worse.
That’s the verdict from a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
The results of the study presented by Stanford University professors Noah S. Diffenbaugh and Marshall Burke paint a dire picture of the current and future effects of climate change on wealth and resource inequality around the world.
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While the world has become more equal over the last few decades, climate change has held the progression in check.
“The global warming caused by fossil fuel use has likely exacerbated the economic inequality associated with historical disparities in energy consumption,” the study’s authors write.
And unless there’s a change in how the world powers itself, said Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and the one-time U.N.’s special envoy on climate change, inequality is going to get worse, because continued rises in global temperatures will only add to the problem and make things worse for poorer countries and communities.
“They will suffer the most, they will suffer disproportionately, as they are already,” Robinson told TIME last fall.
“Not only will #ClimateChange hit people in poverty hardest, new study found it has already been contributing to global inequality,” said Bassam Khawaj, senior advisor to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.
The effects of climate change are felt more in warmer countries than cooler countries, according to the study, meaning that the so-called Global South—in modern history the more impoverished and exploited part of the planet—will continue to be hardest hit by the changes.
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