Climate Change Could Cause 100 Million Deaths by 2030, Warns New Report

flood-bangladesh-dhakaThe combined climate-carbon crisis is responsible for five million deaths annually and costs the world economy 1.6% of global gross domestic product (GDP), according to a new report commissioned by 20 of the world's most vulnerable countries. The report, conducted by the independent humanitarian and research organization DARA, projects that 100 million lives and 3.2% global GDP will be lost by 2030 if the climate crisis is not immediately addressed.

Twenty of the world's most vulnerable countries commissioned the report, which considers a variety of climate- and carbon-related factors including air pollution, extreme weather, flooding, droughts, desertification, and communicable diseases.

The report notes that the world is already committed to at least another one degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature due to a combination of the inertia of the world's oceans, the slow response of the carbon cycle to reduced CO2 emissions, and limitations on how fast emissions can actually be reduced.

Costs will be disproportionately borne by developing countries, which faced 11 percent of forgone GDP in 2010 due to climate change and the carbon economy. Over 90 percent of climate- and carbon-related deaths will occur in developing countries by 2030, says the report.

"One degree Celsius rise in temperature is associated with 10% productivity loss in farming," said Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today at a diplomatic event to coincide with the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly. "For us, it means losing about four million metric tonnes of food grain, amounting to about US$ 2.5 billion. That is about 2% of our GDP. Adding up the damages to property and other losses, we are faced with a total loss of about 3-4% of GDP. Without these losses, we could have easily secured much higher growth."

Major economies will also be heavily hit. By 2030, China will incur the greatest share of all losses at over 1.2 trillion dollars. The U.S. economy will face two percent of forgone GDP, and India will be held back by more than five percent of its GDP.

The report also notes that the world's exposure to economic loss dwarfs the modest costs of tackling the climate crisis. DARA estimates that reducing global emissions over the next decade would cost just 0.5 percent of GDP.

"Governments and international policy makers must act decisively to combat the spiraling costs to national and global GDP resulting from inaction on climate change," said DARA Trustee and Former President of Costa Rica José María Figueres. "With the investment required to solve climate change already far below the estimated costs of inaction, no doubt remains as to the path worth taking."

Still, the world's advanced economies have been slow to make meaningful commitments to tackle the climate crisis. The U.S. refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol rendered that international climate agreement impotent.  Moreover, the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen was widely criticized for failing to produce a legally binding treaty.

"After 17 years of international negotiations, we are still without any meaningful agreement or action to reduce global warming," said Prime Minister Hasina.

The full report from DARA is available at http://daraint.org/climate-vulnerability-monitor/climate-vulnerability-monitor-2012/.

Image credit: dougsyme

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