Tropical cyclone (TC) impacts are expected to worsen under continued global warming and socio-economic development. Here we combine TC simulations with an impact model to quantify country-level population exposure to TC winds for different magnitudes of global mean surface temperature increase and future population distributions. We estimate an annual global TC exposure increase of 26% (33 million people) for a 1 °C increase in global mean surface temperature, assuming present-day population. The timing of warming matters when additionally accounting for population change, with global population projected to peak around mid-century and decline thereafter. A middle-of-the-road socio-economic scenario combined with 2 °C of warming around 2050 increases exposure by 41% (52 million). A stronger mitigation scenario reaching 2 °C around 2100 limits this increase to 20% (25 million). Rapid climate action therefore avoids interference with peak global population timing and limits climate-change-driven exposure. Cumulatively, over 1.8 billion people could be saved by 2100.