Christian Aid urges climate action as largest events all surpass $3bn mark

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Relief and development agency Christian Aid has called for more urgent action to combat climate change, as its data shows that all ten of the most costly extreme events surpassed $3 billion in losses this year.

financial-climate-riskThe organisation linked the trend of growing losses to the influence of the climate crisis, and drew attention to the massive human and environmental damage caused by catastrophic events this year, in addition to their vast financial toll.

Notably, most of Christian Aid’s loss estimates are based only on insured losses, meaning the true financial costs are likely to be even higher, particularly as many of the largest events impacted poorer countries where insurance penetration is lower.

Among the costliest events of the year was Hurricane Ian, which Christian Aid estimates to have driven more than $100 billion in losses, as well as the heatwave and drought conditions in Europe, which are estimated at a further $20 billion.

Additionally, floods in Pakistan are estimated to have caused $30 billion in economic damages after displacing some seven million people, although only $5.6 billion of these losses are expected to have been covered by insurance.

Other events included both flooding and drought events in China that had estimated losses in excess of $12.3 billion and $8.4 billion, respectively, floods in East Australia worth more than $7.5 billion, drought in Brazil passing $4 billion in losses, and more than $3 billion of costs from both Hurricane Fiona in the Caribbean and Canada, and from the KwaZulu Natal and Eastern Cape floods in South Africa.

Christian Aid says these extreme events underline the importance of the loss and damage fund recently agreed at COP27 to provide financial support to people in developing countries who have suffered huge losses due to the climate crisis.

“Having ten separate climate disasters in the last year that each cost more than $3 billion points to the financial cost of inaction on the climate crisis,” said Christian Aid CEO, Patrick Watt.

“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.”

Nushrat Chowdhury, Christian Aid Climate Justice Policy Advisor in Bangladesh, also commented: “The creation of the loss and damage fund at the COP27 climate summit was a huge breakthrough for people living on the front lines of this crisis. This report shows just how badly it is needed and the urgency with which we need to see it up and running.”

“Many people in the global south dealing with these disasters cannot afford insurance to cover their losses and they often can’t rely on the state to act as a safety net,” Chowdhury added. “The fact they have done almost nothing to cause the climate emergency is why it is so unfair they are left to suffer without support.  We must see that change in 2023.”

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