The warming climate is aggravating natural disasters from earthquakes to floods to fires—and pushing more than two million more people into poverty every month, the World Bank revealed in a report released at the United Nations climate summit in Marrakech.
Their misfortune is also a loss to the world economy, the institution said. Victims of natural security failures have less to spend—costing the global economy “more than half a trillion dollars in lost consumption” annually, according to The Guardian’s coverage of the bank’s report.
The “study of 117 countries concluded that the full cost of natural disasters was US$520 billion a year—60% higher than any previous estimate—once the impact on poor people was taken into account,” the paper reports. “The same loss affects poor and marginalized people far more” than wealthier victims, “because their livelihoods depend on fewer assets, their consumption is closer to subsistence levels, they cannot rely on savings to smooth the impacts, their health and education are at greater risk, and they may need more time to recover and reconstruct.”
“Storms, floods, and droughts have dire human and economic consequences, with poor people often paying the heaviest price,” said World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, commenting on the findings. “Severe climate shocks threaten to roll back decades of progress against poverty. Building resilience to disasters not only makes economic sense, it is a moral imperative.”
Report author Stephane Hallegatte added: “Countries are enduring a growing number of unexpected shocks as a result of climate change. Poor people need social and financial protection from disasters that cannot be avoided. With risk policies that we know to be effective, we have the opportunity to prevent millions of people from falling into poverty.”
The report adds to earlier studies by the OECD and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization linking fossil fuel deployment directly and indirectly through climate change to a range of injuries to the world’s poorest.