By Nuran Erkul Kaya
ISTANBUL (AA) - Ten of the most extreme weather events in 2021 were driven by climate change and they displaced more than 1.3 million people and caused $170 billion in damages, according to a new report released on Monday.
The report by Christian Aid, titled Counting the Cost 2021: A Year of Climate Breakdown, said each of the 10 events cost more than $1.5 billion. Most of the estimates are based only on insured losses meaning the true financial costs are likely to be considerably higher.
Hurricane Ida which struck the US in August cost $65 billion and killed 95 people. Floods in Europe in June caused losses of $43 billion and killed 240, while floods in China's Henan province caused destruction worth $17.5 billion, 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 hit poorer nations.
According to Christian Aid, four of the 10 most costly events took place in Asia, with floods and typhoons costing a combined $24 billion.
Floods hit Australia in March, displacing 18,000 people and costing $2.1 billion, while floods in Canada’s British Colombia caused losses of $7.5 billion and forced 15,000 people 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 that have crossed the $100 billion insured loss threshold.
All six 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, the 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.
The 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 the action that will see emissions fall rapidly and support given to those in need," said Nushrat Chowdhury, Christian Aid’s climate justice advisor in Bangladesh.
"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.