An estimated 20-million people will be pushed into poverty because of climate change in 2030, which may possibly rocket to more than 100-million people if speedy social developments are not conducted, an economist said on Wednesday.
“We estimated that 20-million people will be pushed into poverty because of climate change in 2030, and 20-million is a big number, more especially when you are one of that 20-million people, but still small compared with the global population," lead economist at the World Bank, Stephane Hallegatte said.
"If we don't do this big push, then numbers balloon for like more than 100-million people," Hallegatte, who also has many years experience of academic research in environmental economics and climate science said speaking at the Adaptation Futures 2018 -- the world’s leading conference on climate change adaptation held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).
He added that the figures proved the challenge of a race between development that would take people away from the very high vulnerabilities that they face when they don’t have access to proper services delivery.
“The race between this and climate change impacts are increasing all the time. And that means that this is a development challenge, bringing people out of this high vulnerability stage is about bringing energy to more than one-billion people, bring drinking water, bringing sanitation and this is a massive challenge especially in terms of financing but not only that," said Hallegatte.
Poor people are the most vulnerable to climate change because their lack of funds mean they often live on cheap land exposed to more climate changes, he added, telling delegates that when the work on development poverty and climate change was conducted, “the first thing that we have looked at was household surveys, following households over a very long period of time asking them what kept them in poverty and what are the obstacles that people face when they’re trying to build assets and accumulate wealth and get out of the poverty trap”.
He said that they have found that agriculture income, food prices, natural disasters like storms, and health were the most severe obstacles which had kept people in poverty for a long time.
“And of course all of that interacts and that’s what people tell us, and what's important here is that I’m not talking about a model here but I’m talking about what people say about problems they face. And when you heard that then you can bring the model in and then you realise that these shocks that are already keeping people in poverty will increase due to climate change,” said Hallegatte.
He stated that poor people, more especially in Southern Africa, were also affected by changes in food prices.
“If you are looking at how much people spend on food, and a change in food prices, you will find that poor people tend to spend more than half of their budget, so a ten percent increase on food prices on these people is a game changer," he said.
“So climate impact and climate shocks cause poverty and poverty creates vulnerability to climate change and so we have this feedback loop and the question is today, how do we break that loop.”