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Climate change may put 1.3 billion people at risk by 2050: World Bank

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:50 IST

The World Bank has warned that a rise in climate-related disasters will put nearly 1.3 billion people at risk by 2050.

This would also jeopardise assets worth $158 trillion - which is double the total annual output of the global economy - in case preventive measures are compromised with.

The report also calls for better planning of cities before it was too late.

Citing the disasters over recent decades, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery - a body run by the WB - said the total damages from these incidents have multiplied and will continue to escalate at an unprecedented level with exploding population rates, mushrooming cities and lack of mitigation.

"With climate change and rising numbers of people in urban areas rapidly driving up future risks, there's a real danger the world is woefully unprepared for what lies ahead," John Roome, the World Bank Group's senior director for climate change, told the Guardian.

"Unless we change our approach to future planning for cities and coastal areas that takes into account potential disasters, we run the real risk of locking in decisions that will lead to drastic increases in future losses."

Here is a quick look at the report:

  • Total annual damage - averaged over a 10-year period - had risen tenfold from 1976-1985 to 2005-2014, from $14bn to more than $140bn.
  • The number of deaths and the monetary losses from natural disasters varied from year to year, but the upward trend was pronounced.
  • Densely populated coastal cities are sinking at a time when sea levels are rising.
  • Annual cost of natural disasters in 136 coastal cities could increase from $6bn in 2010 to $1tn in 2070.

The report said that although developed countries have been responsible for the bulk of historic global emissions, it is the poorer countries who will be impacted the most.

The body further said the population was expected to rise by at least 40% in 14 of the 20 most populated cities in the world between 2015 and 2030, with some cities growing by 10 million people in that period.

"Many of the largest cities are located in deltas and are highly prone to floods and other hazards, and as these cities grow, an ever greater number of people and more assets are at risk of disaster," the report said.

"By promoting policies that reduce risk and avoiding actions to drive up risk, we can positively influence the risk environment of the future. The drivers of future risk are within the control of decision makers today. They must seize the moment," Francis Ghesquiere, head of the secretariat at the The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, told the Guardian.

First published: 17 May 2016, 12:31 IST