Up in Smoke

IIED and the New Economics Foundation set up the Up in Smoke group, a global coalition that linked leading international development organisations with groups working on environmental issues. 

2004 - Present
Beth Henriette

Beth Henriette was a programme manager in IIED's Climate Change research group until January 2024

The Up in Smoke coalition is a unique and diverse network of development and environment organisations

Until 2000 climate change was largely seen as an environmental issue. Climate scientists and policy makers focused their efforts on reducing greenhouse gases in order to limit climate change. But poorer countries were becoming increasingly concerned about the impacts of climate change on their citizens and economies, and development organisations increasingly recognised the importance of supporting climate vulnerable communities at grassroots level.

The Working Group on Climate Change and Development, otherwise known as the Up in Smoke group, first came together in 2003. The Group brought together a wide array of agencies with on-the-ground experience of working with communities whose fragile existences, and the ecosystems in which they live, are threatened by global warming.

The Group met regularly and organised numerous events and media outreach activities. It prepared and publicised a number of reports to raise awareness about the issues of climate change and development. The reports showed that while the world's poor are hit hardest by climate change, they also hold many of the solutions for how best to cope with climate impacts.

In 2014, the Up in Smoke reports were compiled into a book called Climate Change and Human Development written by Hannah Reid and published by Zed Books. The book offers a rich compendium of real life scenarios and brings home the realities of how poor people are suffering from - and coping with - climate change impacts around the world.

A guide to the Up in Smoke reports

Up in Smoke: Threats from, and Responses to, the Impact of Global Warming on Human Development
This report was the first publication from the Up in Smoke Group, released in 2004. It features case studies from around the world describing how the world's poorest are affected most by climate change. It also highlights how these communities also have a wealth of knowledge and experience which could be employed to help them cope and adapt. This report was also published in French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Africa reports 2005/06: The Group published two reports on Africa.

Africa: Up in Smoke 
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has previously identified Africa as “the continent most vulnerable to the impacts of projected change because widespread poverty limits adaptation capabilities”.

The first report on Africa features a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The report makes a series of recommendations on how to address climate change in Africa, including increased support for small-scale agriculture, a focus on local needs first, and helping Africa avoid 'dirty development'.

Africa: Up in Smoke 2
The second "Africa Up in Smoke" report was released to inform the debate around the 12th Conference of the Parties (COP12) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was held in Nairobi in 2006.

Up in Smoke? Latin and the Caribbean
"Up in Smoke? Latin America and the Caribbean" was published in 2006. The wide geographical diversity of Latin America and the Caribbean means that patterns of vulnerability to climate change in this region are extremely varied. Even without global warming, extreme weather is common. This report confirms that temperature and rainfall patterns are changing and becoming less predictable and extreme. The report catalogues impacts linked to climate change and to environmental degradation, including the loss of water systems, strategic ecosystems and a general decline in biodiversity.

Up in Smoke? Asia and the Pacific
In 2007 the coalition released a report on Asia and the Pacific. The report says this region says will see major changes as a result of climate change. Some four billion people live in this region, over 60 per cent of the world’s population. Over half of these live near coasts, making them directly vulnerable to sea-level rise. Disruption to the water cycles caused by climate change also threatens the security and productivity of the food systems upon which Asia’s population depend.

Other Worlds are Possible
This report aims to identify how to encourage new approaches to development. Published in 2009, this report says costs and benefits of global economic growth have been unevenly distributed, with those on lowest incomes getting the fewest benefits and paying the highest costs. The report suggests that there are better ways to organise economies, communities and livelihoods. It presents a wide ranging analysis to support changes to the current development paradigm.