• AFP-JIJI, Bloomberg


The ten most expensive weather disasters this year caused more than $170 billion (¥19.4 trillion) in damage — $20 billion more than in 2020, a British aid group said Monday.

Each year, U.K. charity Christian Aid calculates the cost of weather incidents like flooding, fires and heat waves according to insurance claims and then reports the results.

“The costs of climate change have been grave this year,” said Kat Kramer, Christian Aid’s climate policy lead and author of the report. “It is clear that the world is not on track to ensure a safe and prosperous world.”

In 2020, the NGO found the world’s ten costliest weather disasters caused $150 billion in damage, making this year’s total an increase of 13%. 2021 is expected to mark the sixth time global natural disasters have cost more than $100 billion, the report stated, citing insurer Aon PLC. All six of those years have happened since 2011.

The report’s authors estimated damages based on insured losses, meaning the true costs of these disasters are likely to be even higher. Calculations are usually costlier in richer countries due to higher property values and insurance, while some of this year’s deadliest weather events hit poorer counties that contributed little to global warming. South Sudan has been struck by floods that forced almost a million people to leave their homes, while East Africa has been ravaged by drought. That highlights the injustice of the climate crisis, said Christian Aid, which warned that such events will continue in the absence of concrete action to slash emissions.

Christian Aid said the upward trend reflects the effects of man-made climate change and added that the ten disasters in question also killed at least 1,075 people and displaced 1.3 million.

The most expensive disaster in 2021 was Hurricane Ida, which lashed the eastern United States and caused around $65 billion in damages. After crashing into Louisiana at the end of August, it made its way northward and caused extensive flooding in New York City and the surrounding area.

Spectacular and deadly flooding in Germany and Belgium in July was next on the list at $43 billion in losses.

A cold snap and winter storm in Texas that took out the vast state’s power grid cost $23 billion, followed by flooding in China’s Henan province in July that cost an estimated $17.6 billion.

Other disasters costing several billion dollars include flooding in Canada, a late spring freeze in France that damaged vineyards, and a cyclone in India and Bangladesh in May.

The report acknowledged its evaluation mainly covers disasters in rich countries where infrastructure is better insured and that the financial toll of disasters on poor countries is often incalculable.

It gave the example of South Sudan where flooding affected around 800,000 people.

“Some of the most devastating extreme weather events in 2021 hit poorer nations, which have contributed little to causing climate change,” the report’s press release noted.

In mid-December, the world’s biggest reinsurer, Swiss Re, estimated natural catastrophes and extreme weather events caused around $250 billion in damage this year.

It said the total represented a 24% increase over last year and that the cost to the insurance industry alone was the fourth highest since 1970.

The Paris Agreement on global warming, which aims to hold the increase in global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, will not achieve its goals unless more urgent action is taken, according to the report. More needs to be done in 2022 to provide financial help to vulnerable nations, including a fund to deal with the damage caused by climate change — something that was not delivered at this year’s global climate talks in Glasgow, according to the study. “It was bitterly disappointing to leave COP26 without a fund set up to help people who are suffering from permanent losses from climate change,” said Nushrat Chowdhury, Christian Aid’s climate justice advisor in Bangladesh. “Bringing that fund to life needs to be a global priority in 2022.”

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