From drought in Europe to floods in Pakistan, the costliest extreme events caused by climate crisis led to more than three billion dollar in damage. In a new study, Christian Aid identified ten costliest extreme events in 2022, calling on governments to decide how the loss and damage fund agreed at COP27 will be managed and get money flowing into it.
Counting the cost 2022: a year of climate breakdown, the Christian Aid identifies 20 of the most destructive climate disasters of the year.
However, all the ten most financially costly events had an impact of $3 billion or more, the report notes that most of these estimates are based only on insured losses. True financial costs are likely to be even higher, while the human costs are often uncounted, the study said.
The ten most costly events are;
- Storm Eunice; Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland and the UK affected; 16 deaths; more than 4.3 billion Cost
- East Australia floods; Struck Australia; 27 deaths; 60,000 and more displaced; more than 7.5 billion Cost
- KwaZulu Natal & Eastern Cape floods; South Africa; 459 deaths; 40,000+ displaced; +3.0 billion cost
- Pakistan floods; 1,739 deaths; 7 million displaced; +5.6 billion cost
- China floods; 239 displaced; +12.3 billion cost
- European drought; +20 billion cost
- 459 deaths; 40,000+ displaced; +3.0 billion cost
- Hurricane Fiona; Caribbean, Canada; +25 deaths; 13,000+ displaced; +3.0 billion cost
- Hurricane Ian; Cuba, US; 130 deaths; 40,000+ displaced; +100 billion
- Brazil drought; +4.0 billion cost
- China drought; +8.4 billion cost
In the report, a second list of 10 climate disasters highlights some of the other climate events of 2022, which did not make the list of insured losses but were just as damaging to communities or posed worrying future threats such as the Arctic and Antarctic heat waves. They are;
- Malaysian floods
- Back-to-back storms in Southeast Africa (Madagascar,Mozambique & Malawi)
- Tierra del Fuego wildfire (Chile)
- Petropolis floods ( Brazil)
- Arctic & Antarctic heat waves
- India & Pakistan heat wave
- West Africa floods
- Cyclone Sitrang ( Bangladesh)
- Tropical Storm Nalgae (Philippines)
- Horn of Africa drought (Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya)
The study also showed that extreme weather events caused severe human suffering from food insecurity, drought, mass displacements and loss of life. “A devastating drought has affected more than 36 million people in East Africa, pushing many to the brink of famine. Whilst people in East Africa have been suffering from drought, in West Africa 1.3 million people were displaced by floods which killed more than 600 people in Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali and Niger,” the report said.
IT also mentioned that some of the disasters in 2022 hit rapidly. The February’s Storm Eunice, which set a new UK wind speed record of 122mph and Hurricane Fiona, which struck the Caribbean and Canada in September and caused losses valued at more than $3 billion all happened in an interval of a few days.
FOSSIL FUEL POLLUTERS
IN the study, the authors point out that some of the biggest fossil fuel polluters felt the impact of the disasters. “Hurricane Ian in the USA, Hurricane Fiona in Canada, and floods in Eastern Australia in February costing $7.5 billion all struck countries with some of the biggest per person carbon emissions. Elsewhere floods in South Africa, and droughts and floods in China hit two of the world’s biggest coal producers,” the study said.
Europe, battered by Strom Eunice and baked by the summer drought, is responsible for around 18% of human caused greenhouse gasses. It has pledged to go Net Zero by 2050 but according to Climate Action Tracker their current plans are deemed ‘insufficient’.
The Paris Agreement set the goal of keeping temperature rise to below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels, yet the outcome from the COP27 climate summit in Egypt does not currently leave the world on track to meet this goal which is why much more urgent action is required.
Christian Aid CEO, Patrick Watt, said: “Having ten separate climate disasters in the last year that each cost more than $3 billion points to the financial cost of inaction on the climate crisis. However, behind the dollar figures lie millions of stories of human loss and suffering. Without major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, this human and financial toll will only increase.
“The human cost of climate change is seen in the homes washed away by floods, loved ones killed by storms and livelihoods destroyed by drought. This year was a devastating one if you happened to live on the front line of the climate crisis.
“Some of these catastrophes hit with blinding speed, others unfolded – such as the terrible drought in East Africa – over many months.
“The UK did not escape the ravages of climate change in 2022 with both Storm Eunice and the summer heat wave taking their toll. These set both a new UK wind speed record and highest temperature record. This underlines the need for polices to accelerate the transition to net zero and the folly of the decision to open a new coal mine in Cumbria.”
Nushrat Chowdhury, Christian Aid Climate Justice Policy Advisor in Bangladesh, said:
“The creation of the loss and damage fund at the COP27 climate summit was a huge breakthrough for people living on the front lines of this crisis. This report shows just how badly it is needed and the urgency with which we need to see it up and running. The people flooded in Pakistan or victims of Cyclone Sitrang in Bangladesh need this support to rebuild their lives.
“Many people in the global south dealing with these disasters cannot afford insurance to cover their losses and they often can’t rely on the state to act as a safety net. The fact they have done almost nothing to cause the climate emergency is why it is so unfair they are left to suffer without support. We must see that change in 2023.
- To prevent further disasters, countries must urgently cut greenhouse gas emissions. Very few countries have sufficiently ambitious plans and even fewer are on track to meet their goals. Urgent implementation must be a top political priority.
- Richer countries need to provide more funding to support vulnerable communities living in poorer countries to help them adapt and build resilience to the impacts of climate change. These countries have done the least to cause the climate crisis but suffer its effects disproportionately.
- Following the historic agreement at COP27 to establish a Loss & Damage fund, governments need to work out how the fund will be governed and who will contribute funding and at what levels. The ‘polluter pays’ principle should be the cornerstone.
- The new Loss and Damage fund needs to provide money to those affected by climate impacts. Governments need to recognise that insurance approaches – including the Global Shield – will never represent a holistic approach to dealing with Loss and Damage.
- All governments must invest in the energy transition to renewables. Richer countries should support developing countries so they can leapfrog the fossil fuelled development path taken by richer nations. Poor consumers need to be protected to make energy transitions just and sustainable.