In one of the first major studies on the impact of climate change on people, Kofi Annan, former U.N. Secretary-General and his Global Humanitarian Forum, have issued a report arguing that climate change is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and affecting 300 million people. Heatwaves, floods, storms and forest fires will be responsible for as many as half a million deaths a year by 2030.
According to Global Humanitarian Forum, “economic losses due to climate change already today amount to over $125 billion per year. This is more than the individual GDP of 73% of the world’s countries, and is greater than the total amount of aid that currently flows from industrialised countries to developing nations each year. By 2030, the economic losses due to climate change will have almost trebled to $340 billion annually.”
The report also argues that “a majority of the world’s population does not have the capacity to cope with the impact of climate change without suffering a potentially irreversible loss of well being and risk of loss of life. The populations most gravely at risk are over half a billion people in some of the poorest areas that are also highly prone to climate change – in particular, the semi-arid dry land belt countries from the Sahara to the Middle East and Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, South and South East Asia, and small island developing states (SIDS).” Four billion are now at risk, and half a million are at extreme risk.
In an example of these trends, The Guardian wrote about China’s new eco-refugees. “The government says more than 150 million people will have to be moved. Water shortages exacerbated by over-irrigation and climate change are the main cause.”