Global warming threatens reversal in fight against poverty, says reportBMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7473.996-b (Published 29 October 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:996
All rapid responses
The BMJ news item by MacDonald  highlights a new report on the
potential adverse impact of global warming on efforts to reduce poverty
. This timely report identifies some of the major threats posed by
climate change and suggests priorities for further action. Added to this
list of priorities should be better use of powerful economic instruments
to control of climate change. Firstly the $235 billion of subsidies given
by governments to the fossil fuel industry each year  must be stopped
or at least partly shifted towards the renewable energy sector. Secondly,
carbon taxes need to be more widely introduced, particularly in developed
countries. Thirdly, in some countries taxes on methane (a greenhouse gas
from ruminant livestock) may be appropriate.
The revenue mobilised from such economic instruments could be used to
improve funding for international development and also reduce the income
tax burden for low-income citizens within the countries involved. An
additional likely health benefit of these measures would be to reduce
local air pollution from fossil fuel use. Also, if measures such as carbon
taxes controlled private vehicle use, then the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that there could be health benefits from
reduced road traffic crashes . United States data also indicates that
higher fuel taxes reduce motor vehicle crash fatalities .
1) MacDonald R. Global warming threatens reversal in fight against
poverty, says report. BMJ 2004;329:996.
2) Simms A, Magrath J, Reid H. Up in smoke? Threats from, and
responses to, the impact of global warming on human development. London:
New Economics Foundation, International Institute for Environment and
3) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Secondary health
benefits of mitigation policies (section 9.12). Climate Change 2001:
Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Geneva: IPCC, 2001.
4) Leigh JP, Frank AL. Gas taxes and motor vehicle fatalities. J
Health Politics Policy Law 1988;13:723-34.
Competing interests: No competing interests