Red Cross/ Red Crescent Climate Centre

200 million people in need and 20 billion dollars needed to respond: IFRC report estimates ‘cost of doing nothing’ on climate

19/09/2019 - by the IFRC

(This story is an IFRC press release issued earlier today in New York.)

A new report by the world’s largest humanitarian network warns that the number of people needing humanitarian assistance every year as a result of climate-related disasters could double by 2050.

The Cost of Doing Nothing – published today by the IFRC – estimates that the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of storms, droughts and floods could climb beyond 200 million annually compared to an estimated 108 million today.

It further suggests that this rising human toll would come with a huge financial price tag, with climate-related humanitarian costs ballooning to US$ 20 billion per year by 2030 in the most pessimistic scenario.

Speaking in New York in the run-up to the UN limate Action Summit, IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “These findings confirm the impact that climate change is having, and will continue to have, on some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

“It also demonstrates the strain that increasing climate-related disasters could place on aid agencies and donors.

“The report shows the clear and frightening cost of doing nothing. But it also shows there is a chance to do something. But now is the time to take urgent action.

“By investing in climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction, including through efforts to improve early warning and anticipatory humanitarian action, the world can avoid a future marked by escalating suffering and ballooning humanitarian response costs.”

The Cost of Doing Nothing builds on the work and methodology of the World Bank’s Shock Waves report, and draws on data from the UN, the EM-DAT International Disaster Database as well as IFRC’s own disaster statistics.

‘The report shows the frightening cost of doing nothing.
But it also shows there is a chance to do something’

The report shows that we are facing a stark choice. No action, and costs are likely to escalate.

Take determined and ambitious action now that prioritizes inclusive, climate-smart development and the number of people in need of international humanitarian assistance annually could fall to as low as 68 million by 2030, and even drop further to 10 million by 2050 – a decrease of 90 per cent compared to today.

Julie Arrighi, an adviser at the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre and one of the main contributors to the report, said: “In this report, we present some of the potential consequences should the global community fail to step up ambition to address the rising risks in a changing climate.

“It also shows some of the potential positive outcomes if indeed the global community takes action now to build resilience, adapt and address the current climate crisis.

“We hope that this report helps build momentum during the upcoming Climate Action Summit and beyond to increase investment in inclusive, climate-smart development – including reduced emissions but especially renewed efforts to adapt to the rising risks.”

Devastating floods in Kenya in May last year – one of the images that appears in a new IFRC report on the humanitarian cost of doing nothing on climate change; at least 210,000 people were displaced. (Photo: KRCS via IFRC)