Global warming bigger threat than coronavirus, says Red Cross

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Global warming is bigger threat than coronavirus. Representational image.

Global warming is bigger threat than coronavirus. The world should react with the same urgency to climate change as is to the coronavirus crisis, says the Red Cross. And it warned that global warming poses a greater threat than COVID-19 and there is no vaccine for it.

Even as the pandemic rages, climate change is not taking a break from wreaking havoc, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said in a report.

In its report on global catastrophes since 1960, the Geneva-based organisation pointed out that more than 100 disasters had hit the world, many of them climate-related, since the World Health Organization declared the pandemic, in March. The virus has affected more than 50 million people so far, it said.

“Of course, the COVID is there, it’s in front of us. It is affecting our families, our friends, our relatives,” IFRC Secretary-General Jagan Chapagain told a virtual news conference.

“It’s a very, very serious crisis, the world is facing currently,” he said, and added that the pandemic, which has already killed more than 1.3 million people.

‘No vaccine for global warming/climate change’

But, he warned, the IFRC expects “climate change will have a more significant medium and long-term impact on the human life and on Earth”.

And while it looks increasingly likely that one or several vaccines would soon become available against COVID-19. But Chapagain stressed that “unfortunately, there is no vaccine for climate change”.

When it comes to global warming, he warned, “it will require a much more sustained action and investment to really protect the human life on this Earth”.

The frequency and intensity of extreme weather and climate-related events, have been climbing steadily since 1960s, said the IFRC.

In 2019 alone about 308 natural disasters hit the world. 77 percent of them climate or weather-related that killed some 24,400 people.

35% surge in climate-related disasters

The number of climate and weather-related disasters has surged by nearly 35 percent since the 1990s, IFRC said. It called it a “deadly development”.

Weather and climate-related disasters have killed more than 4,10,000 people over the past decade. Most of them happened in poorer countries, with heat-waves and storms proving the most deadly, the report said.

As these disasters “literally threatens our long-term survival”, IFRC called on the international community to act with the urgency required.

“These disasters have already been on the doorstep in every country, around the world,” it said.

“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,” it added.

$50bn needs annually

The IFRC has estimated that around $50bn would be needed annually, to help 50 developing countries to adapt to the changing climate. Global response to the economic impact of COVID-19 has ‘dwarfed’ that amount, which has already passed $10 trillion.

It also lamented that much of the money invested so far in climate change prevention and mitigation was not going to the developing countries that are most at risk.

“Our first responsibility is to protect communities that are most exposed and vulnerable to climate risks,” Chapagain said. He warned that “our research demonstrates that the world is collectively failing to do this.”

“There is a clear disconnect between where the climate risk is greatest and where climate adaptation funding goes,” he said.

“This disconnection could very well cost lives.”

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