Geneva (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In the past 20 years, the United States, China and India were the countries most affected by disasters caused by climate change, this according to a UN report published yesterday, entitled “The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters”, which has brought the issue of global warming to the fore, a little less than a week from the Paris summit. On November 29 the French capital will host the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) on the theme of climate challenges.
The study was carried out by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), which examined data from 6,457 disasters that occurred between 1995 and 2015. The study shows that in this period, most damage (90%) was caused by floods, storms, heat waves and drought. The most frequent events were reported in the United States (472 cases), China (441), India (288), the Philippines (274) and Indonesia (163).
Natural disasters due to the effects of climate change have resulted in the death of 606 thousand people - an average of 30 thousand a year - and have adversely affected another 4.1 billion, leaving them injured, homeless or reduced them to poverty. Among natural disasters, floods were the most frequent (47% of the total) and have affected 2.3 billion people, most of them (95%) live in Asia.
If you look at the totality of the data, the study shows that between 2005 and 2014 there were an average of 335 disasters each year, with an increase of 14% compared to the previous decade (1995-2004), and twice that of the period 1985-1994. As for the percentage of the affected population, the largest peak occurred in 2002, when 300 million people in India suffered from the drought and another 100 million in China from sandstorms. Compared to the annual average of 34 thousand deaths, 2008 was the worst year, when Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar alone caused 138 thousand victims.
Presenting the report, Margareta Wahlström, President of Unisdr, said: " Weather and climate are major drivers of disaster risk and this report demonstrates that the world is paying a high price in lives lost. Economic losses are a major development challenge for many least developed countries battling climate change and poverty”.
The Heads of State who will meet in Paris will have to face the question of the risks caused by global warming and the effects they cause to children and the vulnerable. Another report published by UNICEF, titled "Unless We Act Now", reports that around 690 million children (out of a total of 2.3 billion) live in areas at climate risk. They are the most at risk from disease, poverty and death. Most of them - about 530 million - live in poor Asian countries "plagued by floods and tropical storms."