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Climate Crisis Causes 30% of Deaths from Extreme Events in the World

deaths from extreme events

Derna - Maherlink, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Save the Children’s analysis of EM-DAT data

In 2023 there were at least 12,000 deaths from extreme events worldwide. 30% more than the previous year. Floods and fires, cyclones, storms and landslides are becoming more lethal because they are more frequent and intense, especially “because of the climate crisis“. The calculation was done by Save the Children based on data from EM-DAT, the international database of disasters. Other extreme events – far more lethal – such as heat waves, for which it is difficult to clearly blame global warming, are excluded from the bill.

Data on deaths from extreme events

The 240 events recorded in 2023 by EM-DAT mark a substantial increase compared to 2022 for mortality. Deaths from extreme events have grown by 60% for landslides – which are activated by hydrogeological instability, on which the climate crisis partly affects – and by 278% for fires. The largest increase is that of storm deaths, up 340% between 2022 and 2023. This figure is affected by the passage of storm Daniel in the Mediterranean last September, which devastated the city of Derna, in Libya.

It is the low- and medium-low-income countries that suffer the most victims. It is in these states that half of extreme event mortality was concentrated in 2023. While 45% of the victims come from countries that are responsible for less than 0.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Financing the fight against extreme events

“The analysis clearly shows how the climate crisis disproportionately affects those who have done less to provoke it and are less able to resist its most damaging effects, further strengthening inequality, poverty and displacement“says Kelley Toole of Save the Children. “We need to significantly increase climate funding and make it more responsive to the needs of children, including in terms of losses and damage. An agreement on the “transition” from fossil fuels to COP28 is a step in the right direction, but it is not up to the rapid phasing out of desperately needed fossil fuels“.

COP28 in Dubai made the Loss and Damage Mechanism operational, albeit only provisionally until 2026, but did not make progress on other climate finance dossiers (such as the post-2025 target) and on measures for adaptation (the Global Goal on Adaptation).

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