A few weeks ago in Davos, I shared the stage at the World Economic Forum with Bono, who has provided inspirational leadership in the battle against extreme poverty in the world. Tom Friedman, who moderated the session, asked both Bono and I about whether or not there is “competition” between our two issues, the climate crisis and global poverty.
In reality, we must expand our moral imagination and understand that the struggle against extreme poverty and disease on the one hand and the climate crisis on the other are linked -- we cannot solve one without simultaneously solving the other.
The Millennium Development Goals recognize this. And the historic challenge that Bono has been so effective in helping to lead, to lift the poorest of the poor out of poverty, can only be met successfully if the climate crisis is part of that discussion and taken into account as part of the solution.
Some of the programs for the world's poorest countries have already demonstrated how specific sustainable agriculture, disease eradication, micro-lending and other programs can succeed -- but just a one and a half to two degree increase in temperature, put all that hard work at risk.
The emergence and re-emergence of infectious disease, drought, increased risk due to storms and storm surge and other impacts of global warming could undermine all this hard work.
By the same token, it is only with a global compact that the world can solve the climate crisis and only with a global compact can the world truly help the poorest of the poor. But in order to reach these goals all nations need to come together. And we need to have a global treaty in place by December of 2009 that marries these two agendas.