Climate related losses surge

A new report by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has revealed a sharp increase in economic losses caused by climate-related disasters during the past 20 years.

The number of reported direct economic losses rose from US$895 billion between 1978 and 1997 to almost US$2,300 billion during the past 20 years.

While both developed and developing countries struggle with more frequent floods, droughts and temperature extremes, the authors underlined what they call a “protection gap” between rich and poor countries.

“Those who are suffering the most from climate change are those who are contributing least to greenhouse gas emissions”, said Professor Debarati Guha-Sapir, head of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).

The report recommends the integration of disaster risk reduction into investment decisions as the most effective way to counter the threat that disasters pose to the development of countries.

Data in the report shows that climate-related disasters accounted for 91% of all recorded disasters over the past 20 years, with floods and storms being the most frequently occurring climatic disasters.

While USA, China, Japan and India experienced the highest total loss, only one high-income territory ranked among the “top ten” in terms of annual average percentage losses relative to GDP.

The report is available here.

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