Climate change driven ten extreme weather events displaced over 1.3 million people this year costing the world at least $170 billion, according to a new report by Christian Aid published Monday.
The report entitled 'Counting the Cost 2021: A Year of Climate Breakdown' found that ten out of 15 events cost $1.5 billion or more. Most of the cost estimates are based only on insured losses meaning the true financial costs are likely to be higher.
Hurricane Ida which struck the US in August cost $65 billion and killed 95 people. Floods in Europe in June led to $43 billion economic loss and killed 240 while floods in China's Henan province caused $17.5 billion of destruction, killed 320 and displaced over a million.
While the report focuses on the financial costs which are usually higher in richer countries because they have higher property values and can afford insurance, most of the most devastating extreme weather events this year hit poorer nations which have little impact on climate change.
According to Christian Aid, four of the ten most costly events took place in Asia, with floods and typhoons costing a combined $24 billion.
Australia suffered floods in March which displaced 18,000 people and saw damage worth $2.1 billion while floods in Canada’s British Colombia led to $7.5 billion in damage and 15,000 people having to flee their homes.
Insurance and financial loss data on the recent tornadoes in the US is incomplete so is not included in this report.
The report cautioned that such climate devastation is set to continue without action to cut emissions while Insurer Aon warned that 2021 is expected to be the sixth time global natural catastrophes have crossed the $100 billion insured loss threshold.
All six have happened since 2011 and 2021 will be the fourth in five years, the analysis showed.
'The costs of climate change have been grave this year, both in terms of eyewatering financial losses but also in the death and displacement of people around the world. Be it storms and floods in some of the world’s richest countries or droughts and heatwaves in some of the poorest, the climate crisis hit hard in 2021,' said Kat Kramer, report author and Christian Aid's climate policy lead.
'While it was good to see some progress made at the COP26 summit, it is clear that the world is not on track to ensure a safe and prosperous world,' she said.
Paris Agreement, set the goal of keeping temperature rise to below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels, yet the actions and policies do not leave the world on track to meet the goal.
'The climate crisis has not abated in 2021. While we heard lots of warm words from politicians at COP26, what we need is action that will see emissions fall rapidly and support given to those in need,' Nushrat Chowdhury, Christian Aid’s Climate Justice Advisor in Bangladesh, said.
'Although it was good to see the issue of loss and damage become a major issue at COP26 it was bitterly disappointing to leave without a fund set up to actually help people who are suffering permanent losses from climate change. Bringing that fund to life needs to be a global priority in 2022,' she added.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya