climate change development health human rights

Climate change affects 325 million people a year

That’s the conclusion of the first global report into the social effects of climate change – The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis (pdf). It was published yesterday by Kofi Annan’s thinktank, the Global Humanitarian Forum. According to their findings, 325 million people are affected by climate change, and 300,000 die every year, from weather-related disasters, drought, malnutrition, or disease attributable to climate change.

By 2030 that will have risen to 660 million affected people, or 10% of the world’s population, and half a million deaths a year. 99% of those deaths will be in the developing world, while the 50 poorest countries together are only responsible for 1% of global emissions.

In economic terms, climate change is currently costing us $125 billion a year, which is more than the entire world aid budget to poor countries. That figure will rise over the years, to an estimated $300 billion by 2030. 90% of economic loss will happen in the developing world.

“Climate change is a silent human crisis,” said Kofi Annan yesterday. “Yet it is the greatest emerging humanitarian challenge of our time. Already today, it causes suffering to hundreds of millions of people most of whom are not even aware that they are victims of climate change.”

The publication of the report coincides with preparatory talks in Bonn, ahead of the international climate summit in Copenhagen in December, and aims to highlight the injustice of climate change and the need for a social perspective. “The report is a clarion call for negotiators at Copenhagen to come to the most ambitious international agreement ever negotiated, or continue to accept mass starvation, mass sickness and mass migration on an ever growing scale.”

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