THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Report estimates deaths by warming

By Megan Rowling
Reuters / May 29, 2009
  • Email|
  • Print|
  • Reprints|
  • |
Text size +

LONDON - Climate change kills about 315,000 people a year through hunger, sickness, and weather disasters, and the annual death toll is expected to rise to half a million by 2030, a report said today.

The study, commissioned by the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum, estimates that climate change seriously affects 325 million people every year, a number that will more than double in 20 years to 10 percent of the world's population (now about 6.7 billion).

Economic losses due to global warming amount to over $125 billion annually - more than the flow of aid from rich to poor nations - and are expected to rise to $340 billion each year by 2030, according to the report.

"Climate change is the greatest emerging humanitarian challenge of our time, causing suffering to hundreds of millions of people worldwide," Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general and Global Humanitarian Forum president, said in a statement.

"The first hit and worst affected are the world's poorest groups, and yet they have done the least to cause the problem."

The report says developing countries bear more than nine-tenths of the human and economic burden of climate change, while the 50 poorest countries contribute less than 1 percent of the carbon emissions that are heating up the planet.

Annan urged governments due to meet at UN talks in Copenhagen in December to agree on an effective, fair, and binding global pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, the main mechanism for tackling global warming.

"Copenhagen needs to be the most ambitious international agreement ever negotiated," he wrote. "The alternative is mass starvation, mass migration, and mass sickness."

The study warns that the true human impact of global warming is likely to be far more severe than it predicts, because it uses conservative UN scenarios. New scientific evidence points to greater and more rapid climate change.