Climate change could kill more than 100M people by 2030

Without fast action, accelerating climate change impacts will cause more than 100 million deaths and knock off more than three percent of GDP (gross domestic product) by 2030, according to a report released recently by the humanitarian organization DARA.

The report, commissioned by 20 governments in the Climate Vulnerable Forum, calculates the human and economic impact of climate change in 184 countries between 2010 and 2030. It found that nearly 700,000 climate-related deaths already occur today, with almost 80 percent occurring among children in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The carbon economy is estimated to claim an additional more than 4.5 million lives, primarily from the health impacts of indoor and outdoor air pollution. The combined number of deaths could rise to nearly six million annually by 2030 if action is not taken. More than 98 percent of those deaths will occur in developing countries.

The report concluded, “The worst impacts of climate change … can still be avoided if strong action is taken in the very near future to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that lead to the earth’s warming.” Moving toward to a low-carbon economy would require only 0.5 percent of GDP over the next ten years, according to the report.

“Reducing short-lived climate pollutants provides the fast mitigation that the world needs to save millions of lives and avoid the worst of the predicted climate impacts,” stated Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. The short-lived climate pollutants include black carbon, tropospheric ozone, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

“Reducing these pollutants, can cut the rate of warming in half over the next 40 years and in the vulnerable Arctic by two thirds, saving millions of lives each year. Existing technologies can be used, and in many cases existing laws and institutions.”

“The first priority should be phasing down HFCs through the Montreal Protocol—the single biggest, fastest, and cheapest mitigation available to the world in the next ten years,” Zaelke added.

The Montreal Protocol is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. It has already phased out nearly 100 similar chemicals by nearly 100 percent, providing up to 20 times more mitigation than the Kyoto

See also Mario Molina & Durwood Zaelke’s “A Climate Success Story to Build On,” an op-ed published today in the International Herald Tribune describing the climate success of the Montreal Protocol and fast-action opportunity of phasing-down HFCs.

Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development