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Climate News: Leaders urged to make climate change a priority – ‘Eye-watering” costs of 2021’s environmental catastrophes revealed| Climate News

Climate News: Leaders urged to make climate change a priority – ‘Eye-watering” costs of 2021’s environmental catastrophes revealed| Climate News

Houses and businesses are seen damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida as the Category 4 hurricane devastated the town and barrier island of Grand Isle, Louisiana

Christian Aid’s new report reveals that the 10 most severe climate-related catastrophes of 2021 caused over 120 billion dollars in damage.

Weather extremes like storms, floods, and droughts were responsible for the destruction.

The figures mean that it is the sixth year in which natural catastrophes have caused more than $100bn (£77.7bn) worth of damage, all of which have occurred since 2011.

The estimated costs of disasters are likely to be underestimated. They only include insured losses so the true cost is likely to be higher. Many of the disasters caused significant deaths.

These are the five most costly disasters in 2021.

1. Hurricane Ida, USA and the Caribbean – £49bn

The Category 4 hurricane struck the Caribbean in late August before making landfall in Louisiana, USA. It then traveled through several southern US states. And up the eastern seaboard.

Houses and businesses are seen damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida as the Category 4 hurricane devastated the town and barrier island of Grand Isle, Louisiana
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Hurricane Ida destroyed Grand Isle, Louisiana’s barrier island and town.

The storm caused an estimated £49bn worth of damage and claimed the lives of 95 people in the US.

2. European floods – £33bn

Flash flooding occurred in Europe in July after heavy rainfall.

All countries that experienced flooding were affected: Germany, France (and the Netherlands), Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. After heavy summer downpours, rivers burst into their banks..

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“We went into our house, and had to swim.”
dpatop - 18 July 2021, Rhineland-Palatinate, Ahrweiler: Completely destroyed is this bridge over the Ahr in Ahrweiler after the flood disaster. (Aerial view with a drone). Photo by: Boris Roessler/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
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After the European flood disaster, this bridge in Ahrweiler was completely destroyed. Pic by AP

It resulted in £33bn in insurance losses and 242 deaths.

3. Texas ice storm, USA – £17.2bn

Texas was hit by freezing temperatures in February, resulting in the worst blackouts in the US in almost 20 years.

Houston saw its second lowest temperature in Houston, -11C (12.2F), due to the cold. Increased energy demand that surpassed the grid.

Icicles form on a citrus tree from a sprinkler system used to protect the trees from the freezing temperatures on Monday, Feb.15,2021 in Edinburg, Texas.(Delcia Lopez/The Monitor via AP).
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The largest blackouts in the US in almost 20 years were caused by freezing temperatures in Texas. Pic by AP

The storm caused widespread power disruptions in Mexico, heavy snowfall across the US, and even tornadoes in Florida.

The total insurance damage has been estimated at £17.2bn.

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4. Henan floods, China – £13.3bn

Henan Province in China was affected by flooding due to heavy rainfall in mid-July.

More than 800,000. Flooding in the region.

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People ride on front loaders as they make their way through a flooded road following heavy rainfall in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China July 23, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song
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Flooding in China’s Henan Province was caused by heavy rainfall in the middle of July

More than 300 people are believed to have died as a result of the disaster, which left behind £13.3bn worth of damage.

5. British Columbia floods, Canada – £5.6bn

British Columbia was flooded by November rains in western Canada.

As rivers burst their banks, bridges were washed away and homes were flooded.. It was less than six months after a heat dome in the same province that caused record temperatures and hundreds of deaths.

The Trans Canada highway was submerged by the flood water in British Columbia
Image:
British Columbia was flooded by November rains in western Canada

The floods caused an estimated £5.6bn of damage.

This list is biased towards wealthy nations, where insurance claims will be more expensive, but the human cost of disasters in developing countries is often greater.

For example, floods in South Sudan caused 850,00 people to be displaced, even though they were not on the top ten most expensive disasters.

An aerial view shows houses submerged in flood waters in Bentiu, in Unity State, South Sudan in December 2021
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Floods in South Sudan displaced 850,00 people

Dr Kat Kramer, the lead author of this report, stated that “The costs associated with climate change have been grave in this year’s both in terms of eyewatering financial losses and in the death or displacement of people around world.”

In a poll to accompany the report, she also commented on the fact that “the Environment” was the most popular issue cited by respondents when asked what UK government’s new Year’s resolution should be.

Dr Kramer stated, “It’s striking, despite the fact that we are in the middle of an epidemic, the public views this issue as a greater political priority than both the economy and healthcare.”

“If the prime Minister wants to build upon the legacy of COP26, he will need to ensure that climate change becomes a priority government priority in 2022.”

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