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Climate-carbon crisis could kill 100 million people by 2030

By Tierney Smith

Five million people die every year as a result of the carbon economy and the impacts of climate change, according to the latest edition of DARA’s Climate Vulnerability Monitor.

Published today, the report warns this could rise to six million by 2030, with 700,000 of those deaths from climate change related impacts. It estimates 100 million people could die as a result of climate-carbon deaths by 2030.

Currently 400,000 of these annual deaths are a consequence of climate change, with the majority of victims young children. Another 4.5 million deaths are caused from the world’s reliance on carbon intensive energy. Those mortalities are linked to air pollution and jobs such as mining that expose workers to high levels of toxins.

“Governments and international policy makers must act decisively to combat the spiralling costs to national and global GDP resulting from inaction on climate change,” said DARA Trustee and Carbon War Room President José Maria Figueres.

“The Monitor shows how failure to do so has already caused unprecedented damage to the world economy and threatens human life across the globe. 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.”

(Source: DARA/Climate Vulnerability Monitor 2012)

The latest edition of the Monitor, entitled A Guide to the Cold Calculus of A Hot Planet, calculates and compares the vulnerability of 184 countries to climate change and the high-carbon economy. In particular it highlights the economic consequences of climate inaction.

It warns climate change has already set back global development by 1% of GDP – that’s around $700 billion. What the Monitor terms the “carbon crisis” has cost the global economy 0.7% more GDP, and combined these crises are expected to increase this to over 3% by 2030.

Those costs could rise to $2.5 trillion by 2030, with promises of particular pain for the world’s poorest communities. Currently 250 million people are under pressure from sea-level rises; 20 million from extreme weather events; 25 million from permafrost thaw; and 5 million from desertification.

Pa Ousman Jarju, Chairman of the Least Developed Country group at the UN climate talks told RTCC that the report made it clear that developing nations are most at risk from climate change.

“The second edition of the climate vulnerability monitor demonstrates with piercing clarity that it is the Least Developed Countries that have the most to lose unless we rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “This report confirms many earlier scientific assessments, including from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but adds hard economic numbers to the earlier qualitative conclusions.

“The International Energy Agency keeps telling us that we are running out of time to change the direction of our carbon intensive energy system if we are to keep warming below 2°C (and of any chance at below 1.5°C). And now this report shows that the Least Developed Countries too, are running out of time: what country or group of countries can accept an 8% GDP loss by 2030?”

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said her country would face the prospect of severe financial impacts from climate change.

“A one degree Celsius rise in temperature is associated with 10% productivity loss in farming. For us, it means losing about four million metric tonnes of food grain, amounting to about $2.5 billion,” she said.

“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.”

Mitigation

While some damage from global warming is unavoidable, the worst impacts of human losses can be mitigated with appropriate finance, according to the study. Programmes to reduce rural poverty, hunger and disease could help limit the health impacts of climate change in the poorest countries.

Better clean air regulations, safer working conditions and modern energy solutions could help those at risk from carbon-intensive energy systems.

But only the “firmest responses” will close the door on the risks, warns the report. It says moving to a low-carbon future will be the most effective way to hold back the worst effects of climate change and at the same time limit the impacts of carbon-intensive systems.

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  • TrueBlue

    Another biased and poorly researched climate change fear propaganda. First the world has warmed 0.7C in 110years of which 0.4 to 0.5C happened by 1940 but apparently that initial increase which had nothing to do with human activity had no impact since living standards improved world wide. Where is the evidence that a .7c increase reduces agricultural output last time I looked global agricultural production hit records in all years from 2000 to 2011 the facts actually say the opposite that as temp have risen so has food production. As far as deaths increasing beggars belief since for every 1 death related to heat stress (in extreme conditions) there are more than 10 in cold conditions, I contend that the facts actually say as temps rise death rates decrease.
    Stop publishing lies and nonsense as it actually does more harm to the real environmental issues not Climate change but over population, habitat destruction, hydrology contamination etc

    • ThinkAgain

      Hi TrueBlue,
      Some of your comments are valid, but they seemed to be poorly researched just like you claim this article is. What you have written is not well-informed and does not present a full explanation.
      First of all, I believe you start by trying to explain that climate change is a naturally occurring phenomena. This is in fact, partially true, because scientific research has long proven that the earth naturally goes through heating and cooling cycles. But that does not explain the ever-increasing and dramatic shift in weather patterns and rising temperatures completely. It has also been long proven by countless research groups again and again that global warming is caused by greenhouse gases as well, which are man-made.
      As for your second and third points about climate change having no impact on living standards or agriculture, well the facts you spit out may be true, but they really don’t prove anything of value. Yes, living conditions have improved, and yes agricultural production has increased, because we continue to improve our technology and resourcefulness in these fields. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that the world’s development, and more importantly, its implementation of new technology, farming and living methods can keep increasing at a rate equal to the exponential growth of climate change. In simpler words (I have a sense you’ll need them), we can’t reinvent our current society as fast as climate change will be tearing down the one that’s already in place.
      One more thing. You seem to be either completely unaware of how climate change affects the planet, or maybe you’re just consciously ignoring well-established facts to prove a point you want to be true. Climate change does not just mean that the world will get a little bit warmer. Climate change also implies natural disasters of increasing scale and frequency, flooding of home and farm land, and desertification. It does not only imply gradual overall warming of the Earth (which has more negative outcomes than you seem to know), but also illogical and dramatic shifts in weather from its normal patterns to extremes. Winters will freeze, summer’s will burn, and no one will be able to predict what spring and fall will be like.
      Please look at research supporting both sides of an argument, then choose what you believe not based on what you want to be true but what to your logical mind you think must be true. You’d do everyone, especially yourself a favor.