Report reveals huge toll of extreme weather disasters in 2021

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A new report from Christian Aid, Counting the cost of 2021: a year of climate change identifies 15 of the most destructive weather disasters of the year.

Ten of these events cost $ 1.5 billion or more. Most of these estimates are based on insured losses only, which means that the true financial costs are likely to be even higher. Among them, Hurricane Ida, which hit the United States in August, costing 65 billion dollars and killing 95 people. July floods in Europe cost $ 43 billion and killed 240 people, while floods in China’s Henan province caused $ 17.5 billion in destruction, killed 320 people and displaced more than a million people .

While the report focuses on financial costs, which are typically higher in wealthy countries because they have higher real estate values ​​and can afford insurance, some of the most devastating extreme weather events of 2021 have hit the worst countries. poorer, who have contributed little to climate change. Yet, in addition to the financial cost, these extreme weather events have caused severe human suffering due to food insecurity, drought and extreme weather events causing massive displacement and loss of life. South Sudan has experienced terrible flooding that has forced more than 850,000 people to flee their homes, many of whom were already internally displaced, while East Africa continues to be ravaged by the drought, highlighting the injustice of the climate crisis.

A new Savanta ComRes poll commissioned by Christian Aid has found that despite the pandemic making headlines, the British public believe the climate crisis should be the UK government’s top priority by 2022, above healthcare, economy, crime, social care and housing. Respondents were asked what question should be the government’s New Year’s resolution for 2022, with 27% of them reporting climate change, followed by 23% for healthcare, 14% for the economy, 9% for social care, 8% for crime, 6% for housing and 4% for education.

Some of the disasters of 2021 struck quickly, such as Cyclone Yaas, which hit India and Bangladesh in May and caused losses estimated at $ 3 billion in just a few days. Other events took months to unfold, such as the drought of the Paraná River in Latin America, which saw the river, a vital part of the region’s economy, at its lowest level in 77 years and had impacting lives and livelihoods in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.

Four of the ten costliest events took place in Asia, with floods and typhoons totaling $ 24 billion. But the impact of extreme weather conditions has been felt all over the world. Australia suffered floods in March that displaced 18,000 people and caused damage worth $ 2.1 billion, while flooding in British Columbia in Canada caused damage of $ 7.5 billion dollars and 15,000 people had to flee their homes. Insurance and financial loss data on recent tornadoes in the United States is incomplete and is therefore not included in this report, but may be included in next year’s study.

Worryingly, such climate devastation is expected to continue without action to reduce emissions. Insurer Aon warns that 2021 is expected to be the sixth time global natural disasters have crossed the $ 100 billion insured loss threshold. All six have occurred since 2011 and 2021 will be the fourth in five years.

The report also highlights slow-developing crises such as the drought in the Chad Basin which has seen Lake Chad shrink by 90% since the 1970s and threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of the world’s largest. poor people of the world who live in the region.

These extreme events highlight the need for concrete climate action. The Paris Agreement set the goal of keeping the temperature rise below 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels, but the results of COP26 in Glasgow are currently not leaving the world on track to achieve this goal, therefore much more urgent action is required.

It is also vital that in 2022 more is done to provide financial support to the most vulnerable countries, in particular the creation of a fund to address the permanent loss and damage suffered in poor countries by climate change.

“The costs of climate change have been severe this year, both in terms of staggering financial losses, but also deaths and displacement of people around the world,” said report author Dr Kat Kramer, responsible of Christian Aid’s climate policy. “Whether it’s storms and floods in some of the richest countries in the world or droughts and heat waves in some of the poorest, the climate crisis has hit hard in 2021. If it was right From seeing progress made at the COP26 summit, it is clear that the world is not on the right track to ensure a safe and prosperous world.

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