Received wisdom, however wrong, is something difficult to change. So one of the most common knee jerk reactions to environmentalists going on about the need to act against climate change is still: "Yeah, but what about development? Don't the poor have a right to live too?" Sure.
But as it turns out, development, especially development is being undermined by climate change. It is the poor that are most vulnerable to climate change. It is they who are already hardest hit. It is "developing countries", that will suffer the worst impacts of climate change. In the period between 2000 and 2004, for example, over 98 per cent of the 262 million people affected by climate-related disasters were in developing countries. Whichever way you look at it, climate change is a threat to development. At the same time, climate-friendly technologies - such as off grid solar installations - are often the best way to deliver key development objectives - such as access to electricity for all.
All this has been true for years. But even though development organizations have joined us 'greenies' in saying it increasingly loudly, this message has still not gotten through. Certainly not to the people I meet on trains, in bars or at dinner parties. May be the United Nations' body tasked with global development - UNDP - will be believed more than me!
In their new Human Development Report - published today - they have confirmed that climate change threatens development.
"We must see the fight against poverty and the fight against the effects of climate change as interrelated efforts" they conclude. UNDP warns that if we fail to address climate change, we will consign 40 per cent of the world’s population to a future of “diminished opportunity”. Such strong words a few days before the next global climate negotiations start in Bali, Indonesia, are very welcome.
What a shame, therefore, that UNDP spoils its good report by endorsing unproven, dirty coal technologies - such as 'carbon capture and storage'. UNDP is, in fact, calling for further subsidies for the most climate damaging of all energy forms: coal.
That is absurd - especially given that it is again the poor in developing countries that are often devastated by coal mines or power plants - not to mention the later impacts of climate change. There is also no need to believe in the world's most glaring oxymoron: "clean coal".
It seems that even UNDP seems to not believe its own message, that development and climate protection need to go together. They seem to somehow think that we need some magic new technologies to make this true. But: We do not! We can have development and climate protection - now. We can meet energy demand with existing, market-ready technologies - if we go for an energy revolution based on energy efficiency and renewable energy! So - let's!