New Delhi:A comprehensive study aimed at understanding the impact of climate change on household vulnerability has revealed that over 4.5 billion people, constituting more than half of the global population, are at high risk of experiencing extreme weather events.
Conducted by the World Bank across 75 countries, covering 77% of the world’s population, the research provides detailed insights into the dynamics of vulnerability concerning climate change. The analysis considers indicators such as income levels, education, access to water and electricity, social protection coverage, and access to financial services.
The study estimates that approximately 4.5 billion people are highly vulnerable to extreme weather events, including floods, droughts, cyclones, and heatwaves. Of these, about 2.3 billion fall under the category of poor, living on less than USD 6.85 per day, and nearly 400 million are considered extremely poor, living on less than USD 2.15 per day (2020 data).
Contrary to the assumption that poverty is the sole driver of vulnerability, the study highlights that non-poor households are also at risk of severe impacts or welfare losses, emphasizing the importance of considering multiple dimensions to comprehensively assess vulnerability.
Hazard, exposure, and vulnerability collectively determine the impact of extreme weather events on people. Hazard refers to the potential occurrence of such events, exposure identifies who or what could be affected, and vulnerability estimates the degree of adverse impact.
With 42% of the total population (70% of those exposed) at high risk from extreme weather shocks in 2019, urgent action is needed to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
The study emphasizes the interconnectedness of various dimensions and advocates for a holistic approach to address vulnerability.
While the number of people exposed to extreme weather events increased between 2010 and 2019 in several countries, the number at high risk declined during this period. Sub-Saharan Africa stands out as an exception, with an increase in the number of people at high risk.
Vulnerability is influenced by a combination of factors, with households considered vulnerable if they are likely to experience severe losses and lack the capacity to cope and recover. Lack of access to basic infrastructure, insufficient income, and limited adaptability contribute to vulnerability.
The research, covering 75 countries representing 77% of the world’s population, offers a comprehensive overview. However, data limitations, particularly in regions like India, impact the accuracy of vulnerability assessments, calling for continued efforts to improve data coverage.
The study underscores the need for countries to urgently address the impacts of climate change, implement adaptive strategies, and safeguard vulnerable populations. As extreme weather events become more frequent, the study provides a roadmap for policymakers to tailor interventions that consider the multifaceted nature of vulnerability, ensuring a resilient and sustainable future for populations worldwide.