In its report on global disasters since the 1960s, the Geneva-based organization pointed out that the world had been hit by more than 100 disasters – many of which were climate-related – since the World Health Organization declared the pandemic in March.
More than 50 million people have been affected, he said.
“Of course, COVID is there, it is in front of us, it affects our families, our friends, our relatives,” said the secretary general of the International Federation, Jagan Chapagain, during a virtual press conference.
“This is a very, very serious crisis that the world is facing right now,” he said of the pandemic, which has already killed more than 1.3 million people.
‘No vaccine against climate change’
But, he warned, the IFRC expects “climate change to have a greater impact in the medium and long term on human life and on Earth”.
And while it seems increasingly likely that one or more vaccines would soon be available against COVID-19, Chapagain stressed that “unfortunately there is no vaccine against climate change.”
Global efforts to tackle climate change are currently failing to protect the people who need it most, according to the International Federation’s World Disasters Report 2020.
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– FICR (@ifrc) November 17, 2020
Regarding global warming, he warned, “it will take much more sustained action and investment to truly protect human life on this Earth.”
The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and climate events have been steadily increasing since the 1960s, the International Federation said.
In 2019 alone, the world was hit by 308 natural disasters – 77% of which were climate or weather related – killing some 24,400 people.
The number of climate and weather disasters has increased by nearly 35 percent since the 1990s, the International Federation said, calling it “a deadly development.”
Weather and climate disasters have killed more than 410,000 people over the past decade, most in poorer countries, with heatwaves and storms proving the deadliest, according to the report.
Faced with this threat, which “literally threatens our long-term survival”, the International Federation called on the international community to act with the required urgency.
“These disasters are already within reach in all countries of the world,” he said.
“With such challenges, 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 profitable than accepting the continuing increase in the cost of humanitarian response and contributes to a safer, more prosperous and sustainable world for all,” he added. .
The IFRC has estimated that around $ 50 billion will be needed each year over the next decade to help 50 developing countries adapt to climate change.
He stressed that this amount was “eclipsed by the global response to the economic impact of COVID-19”, which has already exceeded $ 10,000 billion.
He also lamented that much of the money invested so far in preventing and mitigating climate change has not gone to developing countries that are most at risk.
“Our first responsibility is to protect the communities most exposed and vulnerable to climate risks,” said Chapagain, warning that “our research shows that the world collectively fails to do so.
“There is a clear disconnect between where the climate risk is greatest and where climate adaptation finance goes,” he said.
“This disconnection could very well cost lives.”