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Climate protection at the local level

as part of the fight against poverty

Relationship between climate change and poverty

La Paz: Earth slides caused by heavy rainfall (© city of La Paz)
La Paz: Earth slides caused by heavy rainfall (© city of La Paz)

What is the connection between climate change and poverty?

Climate change – one cause of poverty

Climate change is one of the causes of poverty. In many regions, the repercussions of climate change have created new challenges for the fight against poverty for several years now. The populations of economically less-developed countries are especially affected by the negative consequences of global warming, and within these communities, people living in poverty bear the brunt of the burden.

A major share of the death toll after climate catastrophes can be found in the poorest countries on earth. At the same time, however, climate experts’ prognoses show that temperatures in developing countries have not and will not increase at a greater rate than those in other regions. So what are the reasons for the varying levels of vulnerability to climate change?


Regions with an unfavorable climate often show high levels of poverty. In a desert or a mountain range, the prevalent climate is characterized by water shortages and extreme temperatures. These geographical areas are not particularly conducive to economic development. Here even small deviations in the climate may cause the destruction of traditional economic activities or entire ways of living. Consequences include poverty and migration.


People who reside in rural areas and sustain themselves through agriculture are particularly prone to impoverishment. In comparison to the industrial and service sector, the agricultural sector is impacted by climate change more severely and directly.  

Enduring periods of drought deplete the yield in many regions and necessitate the installation of irrigation systems. Moist climate and high temperatures facilitate the spread of vermin. Storms, heavy rainfall and other forms of extreme weather can destroy entire annual harvests. Thus, climate change has dire consequences for subsistence farming on which many people depend on.

Lack of ability to adapt

Adapting to climate change often requires substantial financial and technical efforts: The construction of higher dikes to protect the coasts from sea-level rise; irrigation systems that balance out lower precipitation levels; pre-warning systems for the timely detection of landslides and heavy rainfall. Wealthy nations such as Germany or the United States can master these challenges due to their economic power. On the contrary, many African, Asian and South American countries lack the financial means and the expertise to develop effective strategies for climate change adaptation.

Climate justice

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