The world has to match the efforts it is taking to combat COVID-19 in the fight against climate change a new report has warned.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has issued its World Disasters Report 2020: Come Heat or High Water which warns the world cannot ignore the impact of climate change while its fights the pandemic.
The report warned that the countries most affected by climate-related disasters receive only a fraction of the funding that is available for climate change adaptation and thus struggle to protect people from the aggravating effects of climate change.
IFRC’s Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said: “Our first responsibility is to protect communities that are most exposed and vulnerable to climate risks.
“However, our research demonstrates that the world is collectively failing to do this. There is a clear disconnection between where the climate risk is greatest and where climate adaptation funding goes. This disconnection could very well cost lives.”
The IFRC added the failure to protect the people most vulnerable to climate change is especially alarming given the steady increase in the number of climate and weather-related disasters. According to the World Disasters Report, the average number of climate and weather-related disasters per decade has increased nearly 35 per cent since the 1990s.
Over the past decade, 83 per cent of all disasters were caused by extreme weather and climate-related events such as floods, storms, and heatwaves. Together, these disasters killed more than 410,000 people and affected a staggering 1.7 billion people.
The World Disasters Report also argued that the massive stimulus packages that are currently being developed around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are an opportunity to address and reduce climate vulnerability.
“A recovery that protects people and the planet would not only help to reduce today’s risks but would also make communities safer and more resilient to future disasters,” it stated. “Smart financing – with a focus on early warning and anticipatory action to reduce risks and prevent disasters before they happen – and risk reduction measures would both play a major role in protecting the most exposed communities.”
Mr Chapagain explained: “Climate adaptation work can’t take a back seat while the world is preoccupied with the pandemic: the two crises have to be tackled together.
“These disasters are already on the doorstep in every country around the world. We must significantly scale up investment in climate smart actions that strengthens risk reduction and preparedness, alongside climate-smart laws and policies.
“With challenges like these, international solidarity is not only a moral responsibility, but also the smart thing to do. Investing in resilience in the most vulnerable places is more cost-effective than to accept continued increases in the cost of humanitarian response, and contributes to a safer, more prosperous and sustainable world for everyone.”