Even with the funding offered in Copenhagen by rich nations, financial assistance to help developing countries adapt to climate change is still below assessed needs. More worryingly, it looks unlikely to improve in the coming years. What has remained unclear, however, is when the world's least developed countries will need this money most.
Anthony Patt of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, and colleagues examined the effects of climate-related extreme events and socioeconomic development on the mortality rate in 23 of the least developed countries over the next 50 years. Focusing first on Mozambique, they show that a steady rise in disaster frequency will rapidly increase the death toll in the next 20 years. After this time, projections suggest that the rate at which human lives are lost will fall, but only if socioeconomic factors improve. Without development, the death rate will continue to increase. Extending the approach to an additional 22 developing countries revealed a similar pattern, one in which the death rate increases rapidly up to 2030 and then falls if development occurs.
The study highlights the urgent need to scale up financial assistance for adaptation in the developing world.