“Drought is not new but its intensity and frequency have increased over the last 30 years due to global warming.”
According to a new report, cities around the world from London to Beijing and New Delhi are in increasing danger of running out of fresh water as a result of the looming climate crisis.
The report by charity organisation Christian Aid examined the future for water supplies for drinking, washing and growing crops to provide food for 10 major cities worldwide.
It reported that London and the South East of England, in the “famously rainy UK”, could run out of water within 25 years due to increased frequency and intensity of droughts in the region.
With a growing population, this could extremely stress out the capital’s ageing water supply system and cost the capital’s economy £330 million a day.
Already more than half (55%) of the world’s population lives in cities. That figure is expected to rise to two thirds (68%), by 2050.
Less than 3% of the world’s water is suitable for drinking, and only 0.01% of that is easily available for human use in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and aquifers. The rest is locked up in glaciers and ice caps.
Moreover, the charity reveals that water consumption increased at more than twice the rate of population increases over the 20th century globally.
Other cities are already reeling under the effects of water scarcity. Cape Town, South Africa came within days of becoming the first major city in the world to run out of water after an extended drought in 2018. In New Delhi, people have been queuing for water amid a scorching heatwave.
Nushrat Rahman Chowdhury, of Christian Aid, co-author of the report, said: “Drought is not new but its intensity and frequency have increased over the last 30 years due to global warming.
“It is a real danger; it threatens lives and livelihoods of some of the poorest people in the world.”
The report also highlighted the disparity of the impact of the climate crisis with communities least responsible being impacted the most.
It warned that the toll of water shortages will be felt most by poor people in cities such as Harare, Zimbabwe and Kabul, Afghanistan.
“These are communities which have done the least to cause the climate crisis. This is the reality known as loss and damage,” Chowdhury said.
Wealthier nations need to step up
Christian Aid is renewing calls for rich countries to curb greenhouse emissions – one of the major contributing factors to global warming – and bail out poorer countries with monetary support.
“To address this injustice, we not only need emissions cut but also provide financial support for those losses which cannot be adapted to,” Chowdhury continued.
“That is why, at this year’s UN climate talks in Egypt, we are calling for the creation of a loss and damage finance facility to be a major priority.”
However, the idea of a fund for so-called “loss and damage” is extremely contentious. Rich countries are reluctant to own the costs for which their pollution is responsible.
Chowdhary has urged leaders to go to this year’s United Nations climate talks COP27, hosted by Egypt with “plans to cut emissions and provide the finance and support to help communities facing drought”.
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