Climate Change: Damage from extreme weather events in 2021 increased significantly

The 10 most costly weather-related disasters of 2021 exceeded $170 billion (€150 billion) in total damages, according to a British NGO.

The figure is higher than the previous year and reflects the growing impact of global warming, according to Christian Aid’s annual report released Monday.

The 10 extreme weather events killed at least 1,075 people and displaced more than 1.3 million.

Last year, the economic damage from the 10 most costly weather events totaled nearly $150 billion (132.5 billion euros). The NGO notes that most estimates are “based solely on insured damage, which suggests an even higher real cost.”

This economic rating overstates the magnitude of disasters in richer countries with more developed and better insured infrastructure, but the NGO points out that “some of the most devastating extreme weather events of 2021 occurred in poor countries that contributed little to the causes of climate change” and where much of the damage is uninsured.

In South Sudan, for example, some 800,000 people were affected by floods, the economic damage of which cannot be estimated, according to Christian Aid.

The most costly disaster was Storm Ida – late August, early September – which caused flooding in New York City, the economic damage of which is estimated at $65 billion (57.5 billion euros).

July floods in Germany, Belgium and neighboring countries ranked second with losses estimated at $43 billion (€38 billion), and Winter Storm Uri in the United States, which caused a chill to southern Texas and wreaked havoc on the power grid, caused $23 billion (€20.3 billion) in damages.

Floods in China’s Henan province in July ($17.6 billion to €15.5 billion) also exceeded $10 billion in damage.

This was followed by flooding in British Columbia, Canada ($7.5 billion), a cold snap in France in late April that destroyed prestigious vineyards ($5.6 billion), cyclone Yaas in India and Bangladesh ($3 billion), flooding in Australia ($2.1 billion), typhoon Ying-Fa in China ($2 billion) and cyclone Tuktae in India and Sri Lanka ($1.5 billion).

In mid-December, reinsurer Swiss Re published a global estimate of the cost of natural disasters in 2021, estimated at about $250 billion (€221 billion), up 24% from 2020.

Weather disasters have always existed, but human-caused climate change is increasing their frequency and impact, according to scientists.

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