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Weather disasters cost $20 billion more than last year—NGO

Published Dec 27, 2021 10:49 am

The ten most expensive weather disasters this year caused more than $170 billion (about P9 trillion) in damage, $20 billion (P1 trillion) more than in 2020, a British aid group said Monday.

Each year, UK charity Christian Aid calculates the cost of weather incidents like flooding, fires and heat waves according to insurance claims and reports the results. 

In 2020, it found the world's ten costliest weather disasters caused $150 billion (P8 trillion) in damage, making this year's total an increase of 13%.

Christian Aid said the upward trend reflects the effects of man-made climate change and added that the ten disasters in question also killed at least 1,075 people and displaced 1.3 million.

The most expensive disaster in 2021 was hurricane Ida, which lashed the eastern United States and caused around $65 billion (P3.2 trillion) in damages. After crashing into Louisiana at the end of August, it made its way northward and caused extensive flooding in New York City and the surrounding area.

Spectacular and deadly flooding in Germany and Belgium in July was next on the list at $43 billion (P2 trillion) in losses.

A cold snap and winter storm in Texas that took out the vast state's power grid cost $23 billion(P1.1 trillion), followed by flooding in China's Henan province in July that cost an estimated $17.6 billion (P881 billion).

Other disasters costing several billion dollars include flooding in Canada, a late spring freeze in France that damaged vineyards, and a cyclone in India and Bangladesh in May. 

A family displays signage as they ask for alms along a highway in Surigao City after Super Typhoon Odette Ferdinandh CABRERA / AFP

The report acknowledged its evaluation mainly covers disasters in rich countries where infrastructure is better insured and that the financial toll of disasters on poor countries is often incalculable.

It gave the example of South Sudan where flooding affected around 800,000 people.

"Some of the most devastating extreme weather events in 2021 hit poorer nations, which have contributed little to causing climate change," the report's press release noted.

In mid-December, the world's biggest reinsurer, Swiss Re, estimated natural catastrophes and extreme weather events caused around $250 billion in damage this year. 

It said the total represented a 24% increase over last year and that the cost to the insurance industry alone was the fourth highest since 1970. (AFP)