The World Paid a Huge Financial Price for Climate-Driven Extreme Weather in 2021

Ten of this year’s most destructive weather events cost a combined $170 billion in damages, according to a new study.

The economy suffered $65 billion in damages from Hurricane Ida. It was a tropical storm which battered the east coast of the United States. According to U.K. charity Christian Aid, flooding in Europe had caused the death of 240 people and caused an economic loss totaling $43 billion a month before. Floods in China’s Henan province in July killed more than 300 and cost in excess of $17 billion.

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“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.”

The sixth year of global natural disasters that have cost more $100 billion is likely to be this one, according to the report, which cited insurer Aon Plc. Since 2011, all six years of these disasters have occurred.

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’s floods have forced nearly a million residents to evacuate their homes. East Africa is still suffering from drought. Christian Aid warned this shows the unfairness of the climate crisis.

China Henan Massive Evacuation
Getty Images – Feature China/Barcroft Media Rescuers evacuate people from a flooded part of Weihui city in central China’s Henan province, on Monday, July 26, 2021.

Mohamed Adow, director of Kenya-based think-tank Power Shift Africa, said the continent has “borne the brunt” of some of the deadliest, most expensive climate impacts. Severe droughts in East Africa, which are expected to last until mid-2022, are “pushing communities to the brink,” Adow warned.

The Paris Agreement regarding global warming which targets to keep global temperatures from rising to 1.5 degrees Celsius will fail to achieve its goals without more action, according to the study. 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.”

Adrian Leung with assistance of Caitlin Morrison Hayley Warren, Jess Shankleman and Jess Shankleman


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