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December 28, 2021

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Weather disasters cost world US$170b in 2021

The 10 most expensive weather disasters this year caused more than US$170 billion in damage, US$20 billion more than in 2020, a British aid group said yesterday.

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 10 costliest weather disasters caused US$150 billion in damage, making this year’s total an increase of 13 percent.

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 US$65 billion 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 US$43 billion in losses.

A cold snap and winter storm in Texas that took out the state’s power grid cost US$23 billion, followed by flooding in China’s Henan Province in July that cost an estimated US$17.6 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.

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 said.

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


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