New studies by the United Nations and Stanford University show that the extreme weather and hotter temperatures associated with climate change are — not surprisingly — making the poor poorer and the rich richer. According to the U.N., this “climate apartheid” will result in 120 million more people living in poverty by 2030.

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The ability to survive extreme weather is a major determining factor, with the wealthiest people frequently able to relocate, protect their assets and build back. On the other hand, the poorest people are displaced, with their homes and economic resources destroyed. Rural communities and women are particularly vulnerable, given their direct dependence on natural resources for their livelihoods and the risk of droughts, floods and storms to decimate these resources.

Related: Low-income housing in flood zones traps families in harm’s way

“We risk a ‘climate apartheid’ scenario where the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer,” said Philip Alston, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

CNN paints a clear picture with the example of Hurricane Sandy in New York, where thousands of people in housing projects spent weeks without electricity, while the Goldman Sachs headquarters was barricaded with sandbags and up and running on privately funded generators.

According to researchers at Stanford, global warming is also helping wealthy countries be more productive. While tropical islands and warmer countries see a decrease in Gross Domestic Product that the researchers attribute to global warming, countries like Norway and Canada have actually seen a significant increase in economic prosperity.

This news is likely not enough to sway countries to stick to their Paris Agreement commitments to limit carbon emissions, even when the poorest countries emit the least and suffer the most.

Aston said, “Perversely, while people in poverty are responsible for just a fraction of global emissions, they will bear the brunt of climate change and have the least capacity to protect themselves.”

+ United Nations


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