The International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) issued a new report 19 September examining the current cost of climate change on humans, and projects what the cost will be at the end of the next decade, in the absence of implementing adaptation measures that would cope with extreme weather events.
Already, over 2 million people per week need some form of humanitarian aid as a consequence of a climate emergency. The predicts that the number will double to 200 million per annum by 2030.
The report, “The Cost of Doing Nothing”, indicates that the current per annum contribution (humanitarian aid in climate emergencies) of $3 Billion USD to $12 Billion USD would have to rise to at least $20 Billion USD per year in order to meet the humanitarian needs that would arise from climate-related disasters such as storms, floods, drought, and other extreme weather events.
Launching the report at the United Nations in New York in advance of its Climate Summit, Francesco Rocca, president of the IFRC, said: “This confirms the impact that climate change is having, and will continue to have, on some of the world’s most vulnerable people. The cost of doing nothing is high, and it’s the most vulnerable who will have to pay if we don’t act. This is intolerable.”
The strain that climate-related disasters have already placed on humanitarian agencies and donors is well-reported. “Globally, most humanitarian appeals are already underfunded and have been for a number of years. It doesn’t seem realistic to expect that the system will be able to accommodate such a massive increase in need,” he said. “Something needs to change.”
The Red Cross recommends spending on efforts to increase resilience of vulnerable people in combination with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The report estimates that timely adaptation to the effects of climate change and lower levels of global heating would drastically reduce those affected and needing aid to 10 million per year by 2050.
The report offers a range of possible solutions, with many being relatively low-tech and inexpensive to implement. Tech solutions include early warning systems for storms and access to weather forecasts in remote regions. Restoration of natural landscapes such as mangrove swamps and wetlands can protect against flooding and re-growth of tree cover on hillsides would prevent landslides.
The Red Cross urges climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction as key to avoiding increased suffering and escalating humanitarian response costs.