Kofi Annan's Global Humanitarian Forum releases report on human impact of climate change
The Global Humanitarian Forum, a think tank chaired by Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the UN, released a report on the human impact of climate change. The report presents a bleak picture of the current and projected impacts of climate change on the world's population. However, it holds out hope that climate change policy can be developed quickly enough to avert the worst of the impacts.
The report estimates that 325 million people are seriously affected by climate change each year. Of these, 300,000 are killed - a death toll similar to that of the Indian Ocean Tsunami. Increasingly severe storms, floods, droughts, shifting rainfall patterns, heat waves, and rising sea levels not only kill and dislocate people in the short term, but also compromise food and water supplies over the long term. These effects are felt disproportionately (and arguably unjustly) by people in developing countries, particularly in 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.
The total current economic cost of climate change is pegged at $125 billion per year, which is greater that all of the foreign aid that flows to developing countries each year.
The numbers are expected to get much worse by 2030, with deaths rising to 500,000 per year and the cost ballooning to $340 billion annually.
While the report acknowledges that the estimates are subject to significant uncertainty, it expresses confidence about the order of magnitude. It was reviewed by leading international experts, including Rajendra Pachauri of the IPCC, Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, and Barbara Stocking of Oxfam.
The release of the report was timed to help put a human face on the issue of climate change in the run up to negotiations in Copenhagen later this year. Mr. Annan intends the report to be a call to action: "Just six months before the Copenhagen summit, the world finds itself at a crossroads. We can no longer afford to ignore the human impact of climate change. Put simply, the report is a clarion call for negotiators at Copenhagen to come to the most ambitious international agreement ever negotiated, or continue to accept mass starvation, mass sickness and mass migration on an ever growing scale."