Climate-related disasters cost world over $145B in 2020
In a year where global resources had been drained by the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather driven by climate change cost the world over $145 billion and drove millions out of their homes, according to a report.
Published by London-based relief agency Christian Aid on Dec. 28, the report highlighted the urgency of more ambitious climate actions from all countries to meet the targets under the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The most expensive climate-related disasters in 2020 took place in various continents and were caused by different hazards. Bushfires in Australia, for instance, opened the deadly year, while hurricanes in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans brought it to a close.
The report titled “Counting the Cost 2020: A Year of Climate Breakdown” recorded the highest costs in the United States, Central America and the Caribbean at $41 billion, after hurricanes devastated the region between May and November.
The Atlantic hurricane season this year also broke records for being the “most active,” with 30 named storms.
Of the 10 most expensive events, six took place in Asia, five of which were associated with an “unusually rainy monsoon,” Christian Aid said.
While the Philippines did not make it to the list of top countries that suffered the highest costs of climate-related events this year, the report noted the equally catastrophic impacts of Supertyphoon “Goni” (known locally as “Rolly”) and Typhoon “Vamco” (known locally as “Ulysses”) on the country.
“While the country bears little responsibility for global warming, it is highly at risk from typhoons, a situation that will worsen over the next years due to climate change,” it said.
Christian Aid also noted that while the report zeroed in on financial costs, which were usually higher in richer countries because of their more valuable property, some extreme weather events were devastating in poorer nations “even though the price tag was lower.”
To prevent further disasters, the international relief agency recommended the urgent slashing of greenhouse emissions, with its urgent implementation as a “top political priority.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has understandably been a major worry this year. For millions of people in vulnerable parts of the world, climate breakdown has compounded this,” said Dr. Kat Kramer, Christian Aid’s climate policy lead and report author, in a statement during the report’s release.
“Climate change has continued to rage in 2020. It is vital that 2021 ushers in a new era of activity to turn this tide,” she added.
Richer countries, said the report, must also provide more financing to aid vulnerable communities in climate adaptation and mitigation actions.
“[They] should support developing countries so they can leapfrog the fossil fueled development path taken by richer countries,” it said.
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