If countries fail to implement measures against extreme weather, they might see losses worth $1 trillion (£610 billion) by the end of the century, new research has warned.
The study by the think tank Global Climate Forum (GCF), published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that damage caused by storms and flooding could increase costs from the $10-40 billion (£6-24 billion) today to around $1 trillion (£610 billion) per year by 2100.
Coastal cities in Africa and Asia that are experiencing dramatic urbanisation, such as Manila, Lagos and Shanghai, will be among the most affected.
Lead author of the study Jochen Hinkel said, “If we ignore this problem, the consequences will be dramatic. Countries need to take action and invest in coastal protection measures, such as building or raising dikes, amongst other options.
”Poor countries and heavily impacted small-island states are not able to make the necessary investments alone. They need international support.”
Coastal flooding is said to affect 600 million people by 2100 – around 5% of global population – if no measures are taken. Investment of $10-70 billion (£6-42 billion) per year is required, as well as a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the effects of climate change.
“If we do not reduce greenhouse gases swiftly and substantially, some regions will have to seriously consider relocating significant numbers of people in the longer run”, Hinkel said.
Extreme weather will not affect the developing world alone, though. The UK has been hit by severe floods and storms over the past few weeks and the Committee on Climate Change, the government’s climate change advisers, said that in order to keep pace with future emergencies, the country will need to spend an extra £500m over the next four years.