It's been a busy week for climate change campaigners. First, a gathering of Nobel laureates at St James's Palace, London, declared world governments must take bold and quick action to avert catastrophic climate change. Then, on Friday, Kofi Annan piled on the pressure, throwing his weight behind the first report investigating the impact of climate change on humans.
The 20 Nobel prize-winning scientists, economists and writers signed a memorandum (pdf format) calling for an agreement to be reached at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December to halve greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, to stop global average temperatures from increasing by more than 2C.
The new report, The Human Impact of Climate Change published by the Global Humanitarian Forum, an organisation led by former secretary general of the United Nations Kofi Annan, concludes that climate change kills an estimated 300,000 people per year, equivalent to the number of deaths caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Ninety per cent of them are in the developing world.
"Climate change is having a real and significant impact around the world, communities and individuals are suffering," Annan said. The report predicts that the number of victims of climate change is expected to rise to 500,000 by 2030. The majority of deaths are attributed to gradual environmental degradation such as crop failure leading to malnutrition, and water problems such as flooding and draughts.
Annan called for a fairer deal for developing countries at the Copenhagen climate summit, to be held in December, and said it was vital for governments to act now. "Climate justice means pollution has a cost and those costs must be born by the polluter. The 15 least developed countries contribute less than 1% of global carbon emissions, and yet it is they who suffer the most," he said.
The two events were well timed in an attempt to influence the next round of negotiations that begin in Bonn on 1 June in the run up to the Copenhagen summit.
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