Counting The Cost Of Climate Change To The World's Economy

9 Jan 2021 by The Water Diplomat
LONDON, United Kingdom

Christian Aid's annual assessment of weather disasters reports an estimated $150 Billion USD in damages in 2020, reflecting long-term impact of global warming.

An estimated 4 Percent of the economic losses from climate-related extreme events occurred in low-income countries were insured, compared to 60 Percent in high-income countries.

According to "Counting the cost 2020: A year of climate breakdown", actual losses are far higher than those included in the report as most losses were uninsured.

The report examines the 10 most devastating events and concludes that based on temperature and precipitation data, in addition to accumulated satellite data on hurricanes and sea level rise, there is little doubt that the Earth’s warming surface temperature is having an impact on the events.

Tropical storms across the globe and throughout the year have been stronger, last longer and carry more water. In addition, the storms are bigger, spreading over a wider area than previously recorded.

For example, there were a record-breaking number of Atlantic hurricanes, recording approximate 400 fatalities and over $41 Billion USD in damages. Monsoons in India and China brought significantly higher-than-normal rainfall for the second consecutive year. Five of the most costly events were related to these monsoons.

Shahjahan Mondal, director of the Institute of Flood and Water Management at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, said "Scientific evidence shows that the intensity of the tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal has been increasing over the past few years because of the temperature rise, and cyclone Amphan was one of the strongest ever recorded this year as a consequence. Moreover, the 2020 flood was one of the worst in the history [of Bangladesh], as more than a quarter of the country was under water...Not only is this linked with changing climatic conditions and global warming, but also linked with changing land-use patterns and deforestation. Unfortunately, the situation might be worsening in the coming years if we fail to achieve the Paris climate goal to restrict global warming under 1.5°C."

COVID-19 had a favourable, but minimal, impact on carbon emissions during the year. It is estimated that the planet’s average surface temperature has risen at least 1.1 degrees Celsius when compared to the late 19th-century. Most of that increasenhas occurred in the past 50 years.

Although no single disaster is “caused” by the climate crisis, a growing body of evidence suggests that global heating could be making many types of extreme weather both more likely and more severe.

Even the record-breaking locust swarms in the Middle East and East Africa in late 2019 and early 2020 are believed to be attributable to unusually heavy rain that contributed to the growth of lush vegetation, providing a critical food source for the locusts. The losses related to these events is estimated at $8.5 Billion USD.