Climate-related disasters unleashed “eye-watering” costs in 2021 – with some causing damage worth tens of billions of dollars, a charity warns today.
A Christian Aid report highlighting 15 of this year’s worst weather extremes including floods, storms and droughts warns they caused death and displacement around the world – as well as huge financial costs.
As the impacts of rising temperatures on more extreme weather become ever clearer, Britons believe climate change should be a top priority for the Government in 2022, above healthcare and the economy, according to a study for the aid agency.
Pollsters Savanta ComRes asked 2,197 people what the Government’s new year resolution should focus on.
Climate change and the environment topped the survey with 27% of people opting for it, ahead of healthcare on 23% and the economy on 19%.
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The charity’s climate policy chief Kat Kramer said that while there was some progress on tackling climate change at last month’s COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, more needed to be done.
“It’s striking that, despite being in the middle of a pandemic, the public view this issue as a greater policy priority than both healthcare and the economy,” she said.
“If the Prime Minister wants to build on the legacy of COP26 he needs to ensure climate change is a Government priority in 2022.”
The report says 10 of the extreme events each cost more than $1.5billion (£1.1billion), including Hurricane Ida in the US in August which cost $65bn (£49bn) and July’s floods across parts of Europe which totalled $43bn (£33bn) of damage.
Most of the estimates for financial costs only include insured losses, with the real price likely to be much higher, Christian Aid said.
Ms Kramer warned: “The costs of climate change have been grave this year, both in terms of eye-watering financial losses but also in the death and displacement of people around the world.
“Be it storms and floods in some of the world’s richest countries or droughts and heatwaves in some of the poorest, the climate crisis hit hard in 2021.”
Financial costs of disasters are usually greater in rich countries which have higher property values and can afford insurance.
But some of the most devastating extremes in 2021 have hit poor nations where the disasters cause food shortages and force thousands to flee their homes, such as floods in South Sudan which displaced more than 850,000 people.