Christian Aid’s new report Counting the Cost: a year of climate breakdown identifies 10 of the most destructive droughts, floods, fires, heatwaves, typhoons and hurricanes of 2018, each of which caused damage of over US$1 billion. Four of the events cost more than $7 billion each. These figures are likely to be underestimates – in some cases they include only insured losses and do not take into account the costs of lost productivity and uninsured losses.
All of these billion-dollar disasters are linked with human-caused climate change. In some cases scientific studies have shown that climate change made the particular event more likely or stronger, for example with Hurricane Florence and the summer’s heatwaves in Europe and Japan. In other cases, the event was the result of shifts in weather patterns – like higher temperatures and reduced rainfall that made fires more likely or warmer water temperatures that supercharged tropical storms – that are themselves consequences of climate change.
While the report focuses on the financial cost of climate change-driven extreme weather events, in many developing countries the human cost of climate change to vulnerable communities is even higher than the financial cost, and there are many slow-onset droughts, weather change and sea encroachment that are progressively and devastatingly impacting millions of people worldwide.
The link to the full report is here.