The UN weather agency has warned that the number of people who need international humanitarian help could increase sharply as a result of climate change.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said those requiring help in the wake of heat waves, global warming, forest fires, storms, droughts and a rising number of hurricanes could rise 50% by 2030 compared to the 108 million who needed it worldwide in 2018.
A report released with its partners says more disasters attributed to weather are taking place each year. It said more than 11,000 disasters have been attributed to weather, climate and phenomena like tsunamis that are related to water over the last 50 years – causing 2 million deaths and racking up 3.6 trillion US dollars (£2.76 trillion) worth of economic costs.
In one hopeful development over that period, the average number of deaths from each separate weather disaster per year has dropped by a third, even as the number of such events and the economic costs from them have both surged.
The 2020 State of Climate Services report, compiled by 16 international agencies and financing institutions, calls on governments to put more money into early warning systems that can improve countries’ ability to prepare for, respond to and mitigate the impact of such natural disasters.
WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas said: “While Covid-19 generated a large international health and economic crisis from which it will take years to recover, it is crucial to remember that climate change will continue to pose an ongoing and increasing threat to human lives, ecosystems, economies and societies for centuries to come.
“Recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity to move forward along a more sustainable path towards resilience and adaptation in the light of anthropogenic climate change,” he said.