New report: Weather extremes driven by climate change will cost the world billions in 2021
- Audio clip of Dr. You can find Kat Kramer here.
- The study identifies ten extreme events influenced by climate change, each causing damage of $ 1.5 billion or more.
- Hurricane Ida, which struck the US in August, cost $ 65 billion, while floods that devastated Europe in July caused $ 43 billion in damage.
- Floods, cyclones, and droughts have also killed and displaced millions of people around the world in places that have done little to climate change.
- A new poll by Savanta ComRes shows the UK public believes that climate change should be a top priority for the government over health and the economy in 2022.
A new report from Christian Aid, Counting the cost 2021: a year of climate collapse, identifies 15 of the most devastating climate disasters of the year.
Ten of these events cost $ 1.5 billion or more. Most of these estimates are based only on insured damage, so the real financial cost is likely to be even higher. Among them is Hurricane Ida, which struck the United States in August, costing $ 65 billion and killing 95 people. The July floods in Europe cost $ 43 billion and killed 240 people, while floods in Henan Province, China wreaked $ 17.5 billion in destruction, killed 320 people 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 value and can afford insurance, some of the most devastating extreme weather events in 2021 hit poorer countries that have done little to climate change. However, in addition to the financial cost, these extreme weather events have caused severe human suffering from food insecurity, drought and extreme weather events that have resulted in mass displacement and loss of life. South Sudan has seen terrible flooding, leaving more than 850,000 people, many of whom have already been internally displaced, while East Africa continues to experience drought, highlighting the injustice of the climate crisis.
A new Savanta ComRes poll commissioned by Christian Aid found that despite the pandemic dominating the headlines, the UK public believes that the climate crisis should be the government’s top priority by 2022, ahead of healthcare, business, Crime, Welfare, and Housing. Respondents were asked what topic the government’s New Years resolution should be for 2022, with 27% citing climate change, followed by 23% for healthcare, 14% for the economy, 9% for social welfare, 8% for crime, 6% for housing and 4% for education.
Some of the disasters in 2021 hit quickly, such as Cyclone Yaas, which struck India and Bangladesh in May, causing $ 3 billion in damage in just a few days. Other events took months to unfold, such as the drought of the Paraná River in Latin America, which brought the river, an important part of the region’s economy, to its lowest level in 77 years, and life and livelihoods in Brazil, Argentina and influenced Paraguay.
Four of the ten most costly events occurred in Asia, with floods and typhoons combined costing $ 24 billion. But the effects of the extreme weather were felt all over the world. Australia suffered floods in March that displaced 18,000 people and caused $ 2.1 billion in damage, while British Columbia, Canada, caused $ 7.5 billion in damage and caused 15,000 people to evacuate their homes had to. Insurance and financial loss data on the recent US tornadoes are incomplete and so will not be included in this report, but could be included in next year’s study.
It is worrying that this climate degradation will continue without measures to reduce emissions. The insurer Aon warns that 2021 is expected to be the sixth time that global natural disasters have exceeded the insured loss limit of $ 100 billion. All six have happened since 2011, and 2021 will be the fourth in five years.
The report also highlights slowly evolving crises like the drought in the Chad Basin, which has shrunk Lake Chad by 90% since the 1970s and threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of the world’s poorest living in the region.
These extreme events illustrate the need for concrete climate protection measures. The Paris Agreement set itself the goal of keeping the temperature rise below 1.5 ° C compared to pre-industrial levels, but the results of the COP26 in Glasgow are currently not keeping the world on track to achieve this goal, which is why a lot More urgent action is needed.
It is also crucial that more is done in 2022 to financially support the most vulnerable countries, in particular the establishment of a fund to address the permanent losses and damage caused in poor countries by climate change.
The report’s author, Dr. Kat Kramer, Head of Climate Policy at Christian Aid, said:
“The cost of climate change is high this year, in terms of both financial losses and death and displacement of people around the world. Be it storms and floods in some of the richest countries in the world or droughts and heat waves in some of the poorest, the 2021 climate crisis hit hard. While it was good to see that some progress had been made at the COP26 summit, it is clear that the world is not on its way to ensuring a safe and prosperous world. “
Regarding the Savanta ComRes poll, Dr. Kat Kramer added:
“It is good to see that the UK public is aware of the threat of climate collapse and wants the government to take action against climate change in its New Years resolution. This issue has a higher political priority than both health care and the economy. If the Prime Minister is to build on the legacy of COP26, he must ensure that climate change is a government priority in 2022. “
Nushrat Chowdhury, Climate Justice Advisor to Christian Aid in Bangladesh, said:
“The climate crisis has not subsided in 2021. My own country, Bangladesh, has seen this firsthand, suffering from Cyclone Yaas, not to mention the ever-increasing threat of sea level rise. I was at COP26 in Glasgow and while we were hearing a lot of warm words from politicians, what we need is action that will lead to rapid emissions reductions and support for those in need. While 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. Realizing this fund must be a global priority in 2022. “
Dr. Anjal Prakash is Director of Research at the Bharti Institute of Public Policy at the Indian School of Business. He was the lead coordinating author of the IPCC’s special report on the oceans and the cryosphere in a changing climate. He said:
“It is the industrialized north that has contributed to much of the climate change we are experiencing today. These countries had agreed to mobilize US $ 100 billion annually in climate finance by 2020, but did not achieve this goal. During COP26, the countries of the global south came with the expectation that the meeting would provide them with a roadmap to achieve the global adjustment finance goal, which was an important part of the Paris Agreement.
“As this new report documents, India is among the countries that are severely disadvantaged by disasters caused by climate change. According to the principles of climate justice, the countries of the global south must demand technology transfer and adaptation financing for those countries that have not historically contributed to climate change, but bear the brunt of the burden. “
Dr. Heidi Steltzer, Professor of Environment, Sustainability, and Biology at Fort Lewis College, Colorado said:
“This is a powerful and important report. It is instructive to pull together these stories about the 2021 climate impact and the cost of living, livelihood and community estimates that will irreversibly change when people are displaced. The loss of community and the connection to earth, to culture and to each other is an enormous price. What can we learn from it? This movement of people can be an opportunity for new connections and understanding – an opportunity to listen to the stories of displaced people.In this way, we can increase understanding by learning across cultures about practices that promote wellbeing and increase safety during crises that take place in extreme climatic years like 2021. “
Rachel Mander, a member of the Young Christian Climate Network, and took part in a walking relay to Glasgow for COP26. She said:
“Climate change will bankrupt us and lose so much more than just money in the process. To avoid this, we have to act boldly – ensure that the cost burdens are shared and that global inequality does not increase further.
Mohamed Adow, director of the Nairobi-based think tank Power Shift Africa, said:
“This report gives a sense of the global climate suffering in 2021. It is a powerful reminder that the atmosphere will not wait for us to deal with the Covid pandemic.” We will ward off these types of impacts in the future. Africa has the brunt of some of the most devastating, if not financially costly, impacts, from floods to droughts. Right now, East Africa is facing a drought. ” marginalize the communities. This is why it is important that real action is taken in 2022 to help these communities and why it is good that COP27 is taking place on African soil in Egypt. This has to be the year that we really give financial support to them at the forefront of the crisis. “
Notes for editors
For more information or interview requests, contact Joe Ware at [email protected] or 07870944485.
An audio clip of Dr. You can find Kat Kramer here.
A link to the report will go live before the embargo is lifted: https://www.christianaid.org.uk/resources/our-work/counting-cost-2021-year-climate-breakdown
Savanta ComRes surveyed 2,197 UK adults online from December 3 to December 5, 2021. The data have been weighted to be nationally representative of UK adults by age, gender, region, work status and social status. Savanta is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.