Friday, May 29, 2009

Climate change 'killing thousands'

Climate change is killing about 315,000 people a year through hunger, sickness and weather disasters, according to a new report.

The report, commissioned by the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF) and released on Friday, said the the annual death toll is expected to rise to half a million by 2030.

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

"The first hit and worst affected are the world's poorest groups, and yet they have done least to cause the problem."About 325 million people are seriously affected by climate change every year, the report estimated, warning this will more than double in 20 years to 10 per cent of the world's population, currently at about 6.7bn.

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

Developing countries are said to bear more than nine-tenths of the human and economic burden of climate change, while the 50 poorest countries contribute less than one per cent of the carbon emissions that are heating up the planet.

Africa, home to 15 of the 20 most vulnerable countries, is the region most at risk from climate change, the report says.

Human impact

Other areas threatened by global warming include south Asia and small island developing states.

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.
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