Factsheet: The Case for Helping Poor Countries Adapt to Climate Change

People living in poverty in developing countries are least responsible for the climate crisis. Yet they are suffering its most severe effects.

  • People living in poverty in developing countries are least responsible for the climate crisis. Yet they are suffering its most severe effects: floods, drought, and storms, plus falling agricultural yields and the spread of insect-borne disease.
  • In the last two decades the number of people affected by disasters increased from 174 million to an average of more than 250 million a year.
  • Developing countries will require tens of billions of new public funding annually to adapt to climate changes that are already apparent
  • Forty-eight of the Least Developed Countries have drawn up national adaptation plans that identify priority actions and estimate their cost. To cover just the most urgent tasks outlined in those plans will cost at least US$1.5 billion per year.
  • Estimates of the need indicates Canada’s fair contribution to be between $1 billion and $5 billion per year, over and above Official Development Assistance.
  • Most of Canada’s contributions could be funded by setting aside a percentage of the revenue from auctioning emissions allowances as part of a cap-and-trade regime.

Effects of Global Warming on the Poor:
Three out of four of the world’s poorest people are at immediate risk of crop failures and loss of livestock. Sub-Saharan Africa alone will lose $2 billion a year as the viability of just one crop, corn, declines.

HEALTH: Diseases once geographically bound, such as malaria and dengue fever, are creeping into areas where populations lack immunity or the healthcare infrastructure to cope with them. The WHO estimates that climate change has contributed to 150,000 more deaths per year from disease.

LABOUR: Rising temperatures will make it impossible for people to work at the same rate on hot summer days. Tropical cities such as Delhi could see a drop in worker productivity of as much as 30%.

DISASTERS: Climate related disasters have quadrupled in frequency since 1985, and could triple again by 2030. In rich countries, the cost of disaster falls on insurance companies; in poor countries it falls on poor people, especially women.

WATER: Several major cities (including Katmandu and La Paz which are dependent on the Himalayan and Andes glaciers) may soon be unable to function.

MIGRATION: An estimated 26 million people have been displaced as a direct result of climate change and each year a million more are displaced by weather-related events. Island communities from Vanuatu, Tuvalu and the Bay of Bengal have already been forced to move because of sea level rise.

CONFLICT: As climate change puts ever greater pressure on limited resources such as water, conflict is likely to increase: 46 countries with a combined population of 2.7 billion now face the threat of violence because of global warming.