The report was released in Brazil on Tuesday. It suggests that to fight climate change and global warming, richer countries need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050, else risk apocalyptic consequences for the world's poor.
"This looks egalitarian, but it isn't," says Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, in New Delhi. He points to the per capita emissions of the US - 20 tonnes, the European Union - 10 to 15 tonnes and India one.
Ahluwalia also added that the report "does not address the key issues of equality and equity."
Past climate negotiations have agreed that the lion's share of greenhouse gases that are causing global warming have been produced by rich countries . This is as they have been industrialised for over the last 150 years.
Yet scientists expect that some of the worst affected by climate change will be the poor in developing countries, mostly those with large populations relying on agriculture.
South Asia is projected to be one of the worst hit by global warming. The Ganges river is expected to lose two-thirds of its July to September flow, resulting in water shortages for more than 500 million people.
Ahluwalia says he hopes delegates to a key UN climate conference on the Indonesian island of Bali slated to commence December 3 would look at suggestions made by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Germany in June.
Singh had proposed that developing countries pledge never to exceed emissions of developed countries.
Meanwhile the UN has warned that floods, droughts and other climate disasters will rob millions of children of the decent meals and schools they need unless rich nations dish out $86 billion (euro57.9 billion) by 2015 . This is to help the poor adapt to global warming.
The US government needs to cover $40 billion (euro26.95 billion) of that spending. This will "strengthen the capacity of vulnerable people" to cope with climate-related risks, the report commissioned by the UN Development Program, says .
The nearly 400-page Human Development Report comes just a week before the world's nations convene in Indonesia . This is to negotiate a new climate treaty. It adds a dire economic perspective to previous UN scientific findings that carbon and other heat-trapping "greenhouse gas" emissions must stabilize by 2015 and then decline.
Without the money, the panel finds , a warmer world "could stall and then reverse human development" in the countries where 2.6 billion people live on US$2 (euro1.35) a day or less.
However developed countries are failing to meet their targets under the current climate treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, for cutting greenhouse gases by 2012. According to the report , France, Germany, Japan and Britain have reduced their emissions to a certain level but the European Union is falling short of its goal of a 20 percent cut by 2020.
"To say that the industrialized countries aren't meeting their Kyoto targets -- that remains to be seen,'' says Annie Petsonk, a lawyer for the advocacy group Environmental Defense. "The targets only take effect for the years 2008 to 2012. The countries are getting ready for them", she adds.
According to Petsonk , carbon-trading markets of developing nations have the potential to generate large amounts of private capital needed to provide much of the development money the U.N. is seeking.
Scientists have reported that temperatures have risen an average 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 100 years. This has brought the prospect of a century of extreme weather, rising seas, widening drought and disease and harm to fisheries, forests and farmland.
The payoffs say development officials , include women and young girls having to walk further to collect water in the Horn of Africa, people erecting bamboo flood shelters on stilts in the delta of the Ganges River, and others planting mangroves to protect themselves against storm surges in the delta of the Mekong River.
"These impacts ... go unnoticed in financial markets and in the measurement of world gross domestic product (GDP)," the panel's report was quoted. "But increased exposure to drought, to more intense storms, to floods and environmental stress is holding back the efforts of the world's poor to build a better life for themselves and their children."
According to Olav Kjorven, head of the U.N. Development Program's bureau for development policy,
because of global warming 600 million more people in sub-Saharan Africa will go hungry from collapsing agriculture. This is not all . An extra 400 million people will be exposed to malaria and other diseases and an added 200 million will be flooded out of their homes.
The development panel notes that the greatest financial responsibility lies with the US and other rich nations most responsible for the accumulating carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, mainly from man's burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels.
"We're suggesting 1.6 percent of (global) GDP -- still very affordable," Kjorven says. "The countries of the world that are the principal culprits, if you wish, for creating this problem in the first place need to act strongly to safeguard the future of those that have done nothing to cause this problem but are the most vulnerable", he strongly opines.