The planet is too small and interconnected for the rich to be comfortable and secure while billions suffer poverty. Poverty is disastrous for people and the planet. Over three billion people, almost half the world population, live on less than $2.50 a day; and more than four-fifths live in countries where the income gap between the rich and poor is widening. Aside from being a personal tragedy, poverty can keep people from taking part in solutions – for themselves or their societies. The only way poor people can adapt to climate change is through having sufficient income, savings, insurance, and mobility.
Governments cannot solve poverty, but they can set up the conditions whereby people can pull themselves out of penury: access to credit and education for all; enforcing fair laws fairly; streamlining bureaucracies; and creating effective safety nets for the poorest. Poor-country governments would be helped in this effort if all the richer countries kept their promises: to establish a global trade regime that helps countries trade out of poverty; to increase aid; and to help poorer countries adapt to climate change.