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Charity calls for urgent improvements to infrastructure resilience amid mounting climate change threat

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Lloyd’s Register Foundation is urging governments around the world to ensure people are prepared and better protected from the effects of climate change.

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Millions at risk as climate change intensifies: urgent call to boost resilience in vulnerable regions

After scientists revealed the 1.5°C warming threshold is likely to be breached by 2027, data from Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s latest World Risk Poll shows millions of lives are already at risk, especially in vulnerable regions. Scientists are also warning that the increase in temperature will see greater impacts of global warming, such as longer heatwaves and more intense storms and wildfires, meaning the risks facing already vulnerable communities are likely to increase.

The World Risk Poll – which saw 125,000 people from 121 countries surveyed about their perceptions and experiences of risks to their safety – showed that, globally, more than one third (36%) of respondents felt they could not protect themselves or their families in the event of a disaster. Additionally, almost two thirds (63%) said they did not have a plan for what to do in the event of a disaster that all household members know about.

One of the aggravating factors is the lack of internet access in many low and middle income countries, making crucial news and warnings harder to access. Only 27% of people in low-income countries say they have internet access, compared to 91% in high-income countries.

With the fresh warnings from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) about global warming, Lloyd’s Register Foundation is urging governments to ensure their citizens know how to respond to climate-related emergencies, and to invest in more resilient physical and social infrastructure to protect and support communities.

Dr Sarah Cumbers, Director of Evidence and Insight at Lloyd’s Register Foundation, said: “The latest update from the WMO is a deeply concerning reminder that we are still not doing enough to reduce emissions, particularly for the communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Unfortunately, countries and regions which experience the most climate-related disasters are also often least able to deal with their effects in terms of the resilience of their infrastructure.

“While scientists are predicting the 1.5°C temperature threshold will be breached by 2027, the impacts are already being experienced today. Investment in flood defence strategies, early warning systems, better internet connectivity, climate-resilient transportation networks and disaster planning are now more crucial than ever – and could be a matter of life or death.”

According to the Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll Resilience Index – a tool which calculates how equipped people and countries around the world are to handle adverse shocks – many of the countries and regions most at risk are also among the least resilient. The five lowest scoring nations on the Index – Afghanistan, Lebanon, Gabon, Togo and Pakistan – have all experienced severe droughts or flooding in recent years. While high-income nations such as Sweden, Norway and Switzerland are among the most resilient, the presence of middle and lower-middle-income countries in South-east Asia such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam in the top 10 shows there are things that can be done to improve the resilience of lower income countries.

Dr Sarah Cumbers said: “The international community must come together to support more vulnerable regions. International financial institutions and governments in high-income nations -must follow the ‘polluter pays’ principle and support those most at risk to improve their resilience, while knowledge sharing across nations is also critical in order to implement more effective resilience strategies. Lives are at risk and we are collectively responsible for supporting the regions which will be most impacted by climate change.”

Later this month, Lloyd’s Register Foundation will announce the funding of a number of projects using its World Risk Poll data for research and interventions to reduce risk and improve resilience among vulnerable populations around the world. Further funding will be available on an ongoing basis.