Climate change accounts for over 300,000 deaths world wide, the equivalent of an Indian Ocean Tsunami yearly, a report said. The report launched by Kofi Annan, President of the Global Humanitarian Forum, in London said economic losses due to climate change amount to over $125 billion annually.
The report is entitled ‘Human Impact Report: Climate Change – The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis’ and is the first ever comprehensive report looking at the human impact of climate change.
According to the report by 2030, the annual death toll from climate change will reach half a million people a year.
A statement from One Young World to its bloggers world wide said the report was issued prior to official preparatory talks in Bonn for a new UN international climate agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. These talks will culminate at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. The report was reviewed by leading international experts, including Rajendra Pachauri of the IPCC, Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, and Barbara Stocking of Oxfam.
The report also indicated that climate change today seriously impacts on the lives of 325 million people. In 20 years time that number will more than double to an estimated 660 million, making it the biggest emerging humanitarian challenge in the world, impacting on the lives of 10% of the world’s population.
The annual economic loss of $125 billion world wide, according to the report, is more than the individual GDP of 73% of the world’s countries, and is greater than the total amount of aid that currently flows from industrialized countries to developing nations each year. By 2030, the economic losses due to climate change will have almost trebled to $340 billion annually.
The Global Humanitarian Forum commissioned Dalberg Global Development Advisers to develop the report in December 2008 by collating all relevant information and current statistics relating to the human impact of climate change. Within the limitations of existing research, the report presents the most plausible estimate of the impact of climate change on human society today.
Speaking at a press conference in London, Kofi Annan said: “Climate change is the greatest emerging humanitarian challenge of our time, causing suffering to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. As this report shows, the first hit and worst affected are the world’s poorest groups, and yet they have done least to cause the problem.
Referring to the forthcoming COP15 meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009, Annan said: “I hope that all Member States will go to Copenhagen with the political will to sign up to an ambitious agreement to tackle climate change. To do justice to the basic needs of people around the world, Copenhagen must produce an outcome that is global, effective, fair and binding. As this report shows, the alternative is greater risk of starvation, migration and sickness on a massive scale.”
According to the report, a majority of the world’s population does not have the capacity to cope with the impact of climate change without suffering a potentially irreversible loss of wellbeing and risk of loss of life. The populations most gravely at risk are over half a billion people in some of the poorest areas that are also highly prone to climate change – in particular, the semi-arid dry land belt countries from the Sahara to the Middle East and Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, South and South East Asia, and small island developing states.
Annan was joined at the launch by report review panelist Barbara Stocking, chief executive of Oxfam GB and Global Humanitarian Forum Board Member. She said: “Climate change is a human crisis which threatens to overwhelm the humanitarian system and turn back the clock on development. It is also a gross injustice – poor people in developing countries bear over 90% of the burden – through death, disease, destitution and financial loss – yet are least responsible for creating the problem. Despite this, funding from rich countries to help the poor and vulnerable adapt to climate change is not even 1 percent of what is needed. This glaring injustice must be addressed at Copenhagen in December.”