Press Release
Climate change threatening 400m of the world's poorest, new CAFOD report shows

Over 400m of the world’s poorest people – more than the total population of the USA and the UK put together – are most at risk from the impacts of climate change(1), threatening decades of investment by the UK and other governments to lift people out of poverty, new analysis from the development agency CAFOD has found.

CAFOD’s analysis, which demonstrates in numbers that those most vulnerable to a changing climate are some of the world’s poorest people, shows that four out of ten people (44%) at highest risk from climate change impacts are already living on the edge of subsistence, surviving on less than $1.25 a day. Of the 30 countries deemed most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, 26 are ‘least developed countries’, classed among the world’s poorest.  For these people, already barely surviving and struggling to improve their lives, the effects of climate change are making life even tougher, potentially putting a move out of poverty beyond their reach.

Read CAFOD's new report here:

Read CAFOD's new report here

Yet with the UK government having invested billions of pounds to help lift nearly 1 billion people(2) out of poverty over the past two decades, CAFOD is warning decisive action on climate change is needed to protect the good progress made in tackling poverty and to ensure hard-won development gains are not lost.

Chris Bain, Director of CAFOD, said: “These figures present a stark choice: either we confront climate change, or we won’t be able to end poverty. We have partners on the ground in over 40 countries telling us it’s desperately poor people who are hardest hit when a harvest fails, when their animals are weakened by drought, or when the glacier that supplies water for their crops is melting and shrinking.

 “The UK has already shown international leadership with the Climate Change Act, and now it has the power to save lives – helping more people step out of poverty and become self-sufficient in the process – by taking further decisive action on climate change. The alternative is a world where climate change and its impacts push the target of finally eradicating extreme poverty completely out of reach.”

In response to the threat posed, CAFOD is this week launching a major new campaign on climate change and energy. The agency is calling for political action to secure an ambitious global deal on cutting carbon emissions, is encouraging people to make changes in their own lives and to support a transition from polluting fossil fuels that are the major cause of climate change to reliable, sustainable energy sources for people in extreme poverty.


Notes to editors:

For further information please contact: Lucinda Devine,, +44 (0)778 5950 585 / +44 (0)20 7095 5459

(1) CAFOD’s briefing paper One Climate, One World, shows that 400million people living in the 30 countries identified as most vulnerable to the impact of climate change are currently living on less than $1.25 a day. The population of the USA is 313 million and the population of the UK is 63 million, creating a combined total of 376 million.

(2)World Bank figures show that 1.22 billion people lived on less than $1.25 a day in 2010, compared with 1.91 billion in 1990, and 1.94 billion in 1984;

Methodology: CAFOD’s briefing paper One Climate, One World, uses the ‘World Risk Index’ from Alliance Development Works to categorise countries in terms of how vulnerable they are to the impacts of climate change, considering indicators such as their susceptibility to extreme climate events, coping strategies to minimise the negative impacts of natural hazards and adaptive capacities to address the negative impacts of climate change in the future. CAFOD overlays this information with data from the World Bank on where people in poverty are living across the world.

CAFOD is the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development which works with communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America to fight poverty and injustice. The agency works with all people regardless of race, gender, religion or nationality.

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