Poor countries need $50 billion a year to cope with climate change

Published by rudy Date posted on April 23, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Poor countries most likely to bear the brunt of the effects of climate change will need an additional $50 billion in funding each year, according to a report released in time for this year’s Earth Day celebration.

Oxfam, an international organization working to fight global poverty and injustice, said in its report the number of people affected by climatic crises is projected to rise by 54 percent to 375 million in six years or by 2015.

The report, “The Right to Survive,” noted that the projected rise of affected people is due to a combination of “entrenched poverty” and people migrating to densely populated slum areas, said to be prone to the increasing number of climatic events.

The 148-page study predicts that the figure will continue to rise with the increasing frequency and/or severity of climate-related disasters, which would further force poor people to live in high-risk places, such as flood plains, steep hillsides and urban slums and deprive them of the means to cope with calamity.

Oxfam said it analyzed data from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) at Louvain University in Belgium for its projections, using the best-available data of 6,500 climate-related disasters since 1980 to project that the number of people affected by climatic disasters will rise by 133 million to 375 million people by 2015.

This figure, the group added, does not include people hit by other disasters such as wars, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

“Climate change is a human tragedy, which threatens to completely overload the humanitarian system. The potential human costs are unimaginable, and will be borne overwhelmingly by those least responsible for causing the problem: the world’s poor,” the study noted.

Oxfam said there must also be change in the way aid is delivered “so that it builds on the country’s ability to prepare and withstand future shocks.”

The organization likewise urged national governments, with the help of the international community, to invest more in reducing disaster risks and to pass the Philippine Disaster Risk Management Act of 2009.

Oxfam-Philippines spokesperson Kalayaan Pulido-Constantino said that in rich countries, an average of 23 people die in any given disaster. In least-developed countries, however, an average of 1,052 people are killed in any given disaster.

Constantino said rich countries must stop “the worst of future harm” by signing a global deal to cut their domestic carbon emissions to keep global warming as far below 2ºC and pledge at least $50 billion each year to help developing countries adapt to the effects of climate change.

“Everywhere, poor people are the most vulnerable to being killed or made destitute by disasters,” Constantino stressed.

The study noted that the responsibility for climate change lies with industrialized countries, which must take urgent action to by cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020; and accepting their obligations to pay for adaptation in the developing world and bolster the humanitarian system.

The study pointed out that so far, industrialized-country action on all these fronts “has been nowhere near what is required,” putting at risk hundreds of millions of lives and livelihoods today and into the future.

Oxfam said climate-related disasters are becoming more and more common, and have more than doubled since the ’80s. Reported floods alone have increased four-fold since the beginning of that decade, it said.

The Philippine Disaster Risk Management Act of 2009 will re-orient the strategy of local government units (LGUs) in dealing with disasters from reactive to preventive.

Oxfam also called on the government for localized climate risk studies to improve development planning that incorporates risk reduction and ensure access of vulnerable communities to scientific and evidence-based information related to their risks. –Katherine Adraneda, Philippine Star

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