Climate change to cause millions of deaths by 2050 - WEF report

20 Jan 2024 02:01pm
Two women use an umbrella to protect themselves from the sun in Seville on Aug 7, 2023.  (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP)
Two women use an umbrella to protect themselves from the sun in Seville on Aug 7, 2023. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP)

DAVOS - Climate change threatens to cause several million deaths in the coming decades as well as serious illnesses and high costs for healthcare systems, according to a report published on Tuesday in Davos, Switzerland, reported German news agency (dpa).

The greatest risk is posed by flooding, according to the joint report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) - which is being held in Davos this week - and the consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

The authors of the study analysed six key consequences of climate change: floods, droughts, heatwaves, tropical storms, forest fires and rising sea levels.

The study is based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) medium scenario for temperature rise by 2100, which assumes an increase in the average temperature of 2.7 degrees Celsius.

According to the study, climate change could then cause up to 14.5 million deaths worldwide by 2050. Healthcare systems would have to bear additional costs totalling US$1.1 trillion.

According to estimates, flooding alone could cause 8.5 million deaths by 2050 - not only directly, but also indirectly through crop damage, increased infectious diseases and higher humidity, which can lead to respiratory diseases.

The Asia-Pacific region, with its heavily populated coastal regions, is likely to bear the brunt of this.

The authors expect the second-highest mortality rate of 3.2 million deaths to be caused by droughts -primarily due to the long-term effects of declining water quality and less fertile soils on child mortality.

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According to the report, heatwaves could cost around 1.6 million lives by 2050, especially among older people.

The report also predicts there would be an increase in illnesses and cases of occupational disability. Warmer temperatures, for example, could cause mosquitoes to spread significantly, making malaria, dengue fever and Zika infections more common in Europe and the US.

Overall, however, according to the study, regions in Africa, the Middle East and Asia would be particularly affected by the health consequences of climate change.

The results of the report are to be discussed at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday. - BERNAMA-dpa