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January 16, 2024

WEF: climate disasters will cause millions of extra deaths by 2050

Storm surge flooding US
The WEF report says flooding poses the highest acute risk of climate-induced deaths, and predicts it will account for 8.5mn mortalities by 2050 (Photo: Gerald Herbert/AP Photo)

Flooding will be the leading cause of climate-related deaths by 2050 followed by droughts, according to a report by the World Economic Forum

Extreme weather and climate-linked disasters will result in an additional 14.5mn deaths and $12.5tn in economic losses by 2050, projects the World Economic Forum in a report co-written with management consultants Oliver Wyman and published during the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos.

The report predicts that climate-induced impacts will also account for a further $1.1tn in extra costs to healthcare systems by 2050. 

Flooding poses the highest acute risk of climate-induced deaths, accounting for 8.5mn mortalities by 2050, followed by droughts, which will account for 3.2mn deaths by 2050, the report finds.

In terms of economic toll, heatwaves will have the biggest impact, costing the world an estimated $7.1tn in productivity losses between 2023 and 2050. 

Furthermore, the report says rising temperatures will increase cases of climate-sensitive diseases, including vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and Zika, which can be carried by mosquitoes and transmitted to humans. Warmer temperatures will increase the breeding period and geographical range of mosquito colonies, bringing them to previously unaffected areas including the US and Europe, it adds, predicting that by 2050 an additional 500mn people may be at risk of exposure to such vector-borne diseases.

The report warns that regions in Africa and southern Asia will face a heightened vulnerability to climate-related health problems due to their already higher-than-average temperatures.

The WEF recommends that governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to try to halt the rise in global temperatures and “adapt and prepare healthcare infrastructures” to be better prepared to deal with climate-related health challenges.

The report is available to read here.

A service from the Financial Times