THE human and financial toll of the climate crisis is laid out in a new report published on Tuesday by Christian Aid: Counting the Cost 2022: A year of climate breakdown.
The report says that the worst climate disaster of 2022 in terms of human grief was last summer’s floods in Pakistan, which killed almost 1800 people and displaced more than seven million.
However, the total financial cost of around US$ 5.6 billion was significantly less than the $100-billion bill for Hurricane Ian, which struck the United States and Cuba in September, or the $20 billion in losses in Britain and Europe caused by last summer’s heatwave and drought.
According to the report, most of the events occurred in places which have done little to cause the climate crisis. It calls on world leaders to get money flowing into the loss and damage fund agreed at COP27 and determine soon how it will be managed.
The chief executive of Christian Aid, Patrick Watt, said: “Having ten separate climate disasters in the last year points to the financial cost of inaction on the climate crisis. But 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.”
The report says that the true cost of the disasters is certainly much higher than its estimates, as they are based on insured losses alone. While it focuses on financial costs, which are usually higher in richer countries which have higher property values and can afford insurance, some of 2022’s most devastating extreme weather events hit poorer nations, which have contributed little to causing the climate crisis.
Mohamed Adow, director of the Nairobi-based energy and climate think tank, Power Shift Africa, said: “It’s sobering to see the full extent of climate breakdown the world has suffered in 2022. It is clear that the crisis is getting worse. This report shows, in the starkest terms, why urgent climate action is so vital in 2023. We need to see the phasing out of fossil fuels, an acceleration of renewable energy and greater support for the vulnerable.”
Chronologically, the year’s ten most expensive climate events were:
14-19 February: Storm Eunice an extratropical cyclone in Europe costing more than $4.3 billion.
23 Feb to 31 Mar: floods in East Australia: $7.5 billion.
8 to 15 Apr: Floods in South Africa: $3 billion.
14 June to September: Floods in Pakistan: $5.6 billion.
June to September: Floods in China: $12.3 billion.
June to September: Drought in Europe: $20 billion
14 to 28 September: Hurricane Fiona hits Caribbean and Canada: $3 billion.
23 September - 2 October: Hurricane Ian hits Cuba and the US: $100 billion.
All year: Drought in Brazil: $4 billion; and China: $8.4 billion.