The climate crisis: why the world must act now
A new report by the International Federation of the Red Cross warns that the world faces increased flooding and weather-related disasters unless we act urgently
Coronavirus has dominated the headlines around the world as the biggest immediate threat to humanity.
But while lockdowns and vaccines have been the biggest talking points since 2020, a new report from the International Federation of the Red Cross has warned that the climate crisis could pose an even greater threat.
Come Heat or High Water: Tackling the Humanitarian Impacts of the Climate Crisis Together is a new International Disasters Report from the IFRC. Its release coincided with London Climate Week 2020.
Last updated 8 March 2023
The report found that over the past decade, 83 per cent of all disasters were caused by extreme weather and climate-related events like floods, storms and heatwaves.
Globally, these disasters have killed more than 410,000 people and affected a staggering 1.7 billion people.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak alone, more than 100 weather-related disasters have occurred, affecting around 50 million people.
The IFRC found that of the 2,850 disasters triggered by natural hazards over the past ten years, the most frequent were floods. At this current rate, 147 million people may be at risk of flooding by 2030 - but if we act now, we can prevent disasters before they happen.
"Behind shocking climate statistics are real people," said Mike Adamson, CEO of the British Red Cross. "From the family who can’t put food on the table because their crops have been washed away, to the family made homeless because their house has been destroyed. But it doesn’t have to be this way and we can stop people’s lives being devastated by the climate crisis."
"‘The British Red Cross is working with communities in the UK and across the world, right now, to build resilient communities, both today and in the future. But we can’t do this alone. Ahead of COP26, the international community must scale up adaptation action now, including more investment in disaster risk reduction and being better prepared.”
IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY AND WE CAN STOP PEOPLE'S LIVES BEING DEVASTATED BY THE CLIMATE CRISIS.Mike Adamson, CEO of the British Red Cross
As the world begins the long road to recovery from coronavirus, the Red Cross is calling for global leaders to take action, by ensuring that money is there to invest in disaster risk reduction, early warning systems and community resilience.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent work with some of the world’s most vulnerable communities to tackle the impacts of climate change.
Barishal in Bangladesh is one of the worst-affected areas in the world.
Josna, who lives in Barishal, says flooding is a “huge problem”.
“Not only do they carry the risk of injury, but also increase the likelihood of infection and waterborne diseases,” said Josna. “The floods also affect the road network and people’s homes. When there is water in the house you can’t eat. People are sat on top of the bed frames with dirty water on the floor.”
Here in the UK, the British Red Cross was at the forefront of the emergency response after heavy rains caused rivers to burst their banks in November 2019. The British Red Cross checked in on vulnerable people, organised donations and manned rest centres, providing essential services to help people cope.
The British Red Cross is using lessons learned from its international work to help us better understand how to prevent further climate disasters in the UK – from providing specialist training to working with local communities to help them identify their own risks and needs. And we are not alone.
With a presence in almost every country in the world, the Red Cross is committed to helping people cope with the devastating impact of climate change.
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