Global warming will kill one million a year by 2030
- Global warming will kill one million a year by 2030
Estimates at UN talks say it will also cost $157 billion annually
By Richard Ingham, Agence France-Presse
December 4, 2010
CANCUN, Mexico -- By 2030, climate change will indirectly cause nearly one million deaths a year and inflict $157 billion a year in damages, according to estimates presented at UN talks on Friday.
The biggest misery will be heaped on more than 50 of the world's poorest countries, but the United States will pay the highest economic bill, it said.
"In less than 20 years, almost all countries in the world will realize high vulnerability to climate impact as the planet heats up," the report warned.
The study, compiled by a humanitarian research organization and climate-vulnerable countries, assessed how 184 nations will be affected in four areas: health, weather disasters, the loss of human habitat through desertification and rising seas, and economic stress.
Those facing "acute" exposure are 54 poor or very poor countries, including India. They will suffer disproportionately to others, although they are least to blame for the man-made greenhouse gases that drive climate change, it said.
"Without corrective actions," a news release accompanying the study said, the world is "headed for nearly one million deaths every single year by 2030."
More than half of the economic losses will take place in industrialized countries, led by the U.S., Japan and Germany.
But the cost to their GDP will be proportionately far lower than for poor countries.
The peer-reviewed report was issued by DARA, a Madridbased non-governmental organization, and by the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a coalition of island nations and other countries that are most exposed to climate change.
Saleemul Huq, a researcher at a London-based think-tank, the International Institute for Environment and Development, said the findings spelled out the need to start shoring up defences now, rather than later.
"We are now entering into a highly vulnerable phase of our planet's existence and humanity's existence," Huq said.
"No amount of [greenhouse-gas] mitigation will prevent at least another 0.7 degree C of temperature rise over the next two decades," he said.
"In the last century we have already seen a 0.7 degree rise. So we are headed for 1.4 almost certainly. If emissions carry on their current pathway, then we may, in the longer term, be headed for three or four degrees, which is practically impossible for everybody to adapt to.
"But at the lower level, we can do a lot by adapting to the impacts of climate change, to prepare for them."
Previous studies into climate vulnerability have been more narrowly focused and have a longer time frame, looking at, for instance, the risks by 2100.
By focusing on what happens in a couple of decades, the report has a better chance of swaying policy-makers, as these events are likely to happen within their lifetime, said former UN Framework Convention on Climate Change chief Michael Zammit Cutajar.
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