Study: 2023 climate disasters expose ‘global postcode lottery against the poor’

People affected by the world’s 20 worst climate-induced natural disasters in the past year have had to bear resulting costs of more than $400 each on average, with those in developing countries hit much harder than those in richer countries, according to reports. according to new research published today.

The Christian Aid study, which has identified the 20 most expensive climate disasters per capita worldwide by 2023, warns of a “global postcode lottery against the poor” due to the impact of increasingly extreme events, as it called for an urgent increase in climate finance provided by developed countries to support developing countries.

During a year in which floods, cyclones and drought have killed and displaced millions of people worldwide, Christian Aid said the most expensive climate-related event was the Hawaii wildfire, which it calculated cost more than $4,000 per person.

That was far ahead of the second costliest climate disaster in 2023 – the violent storms that hit the Micronesian island of Guam – which the charity calculated cost almost $1,500 per capita, as well as the $9 per person cost of the devastating floods that occurred in Peru. earlier this year.

Overall, the charity said that across the 20 largest climate change-related disasters to occur in 2023, it divided the total damage caused by each disaster over the total population of the affected area, with the total average cost per person affected about all these disasters were added up. events for over $400 per person.

These major disasters hit every corner of the world in 2023, with all six populated continents represented in the list and countries including the US, China and Mexico all experiencing disasters costing billions of dollars nationally, the study found .

It also concluded that some countries are more susceptible to such climate-induced disasters because of their size, geography or factors such as less resilient housing, employment in industries vulnerable to extreme weather events, and places where there is no investment in prevention or reconstruction.

As such, the study argued that more climate finance was “desperately needed” to support developing and climate-vulnerable countries in their shifts to greener economies, including by investing in early warnings and action against the impacts of global warming.

Patrick Watt, CEO of Christian Aid, said that with 2023 expected to be the hottest year on record globally, the effects of climate change around the world are more apparent than ever before.

“The human consequences of the climate crisis are increasingly manifested in the washing away of homes and ending lives by floods and storms, and the loss of crops and livestock to drought,” he said.

The report comes after severe thunderstorms, earthquakes, widespread flooding and heatwaves cost the global insurance industry $50 billion in the first half of 2023, the worst start to a year for the sector since 2011, according to a Swiss Re study.

Separate previous research from the insurer also found that an increase in climate-related natural disasters has resulted in global economic losses of $275 billion by 2022, with insured losses from natural disasters surpassing the exceed $100 billion.

Watt said 2023 was “devastating again if you lived in a climate-sensitive country”, as he condemned the global injustice of climate change and “created a global postcode lottery against the poor”.

“While some disasters make headlines, such as the wildfires in Hawaii, in many cases devastating climate-related disasters go unnoticed by the rest of the world,” he said.

“In poorer countries, people are often less prepared for climate-related disasters and have fewer resources to bounce back from. There is a double injustice in the fact that the communities most affected by global warming have contributed little to the problem.”

The report comes just two weeks after governments around the world at COP28 in Dubai approved the launch of a groundbreaking new Loss and Damages Fund that would provide a pot of ‘at least’ $100 billion a year by 2030 to countries benefiting from it. worst affected by climate change. .

COP28 host country the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently announced that it, together with Germany, will donate $100 million each to the Loss and Damage Fund, while Britain confirmed £60 million, including £40 million directly into the fund and £20 million to support financing. pot. The US initially promised $17.5 million, while Japan confirmed it would pay $10 million.

That came just days after Britain launched a new ‘resilience and adaptation fund’ on the sidelines of COP28, allocating 15 percent of its £1 billion humanitarian aid budget to countries preparing for humanitarian disasters and climate disasters, as part of a renewal of government plans. development strategy for foreign countries.

However, despite these announcements, developing economies represented at the COP are said to be outraged by the slow progress on broader and much-needed climate finance reforms at the end of the summit.

Mohamed Adow, director of Nairobi-based climate and energy think tank Power Shift Africa, said it was clear the costs of the climate crisis were already weighing heavily on some of the world’s poorest people, as he called for urgent action from the richest countries to step up their efforts.

“It underlines why it is so important that the world phase out fossil fuels as quickly as possible,” Adow wrote. “It also shows the gaping hole at the recent COP28 climate summit in Dubai: the lack of financing for developing countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

“Right now, poorer countries are left to foot the bill for these costs, despite them being caused by the excessive burning of fossil fuels in richer countries,” he added. “Until we address this massive adaptation gap, humanity’s response to the climate crisis will fail. It is critical that we correct this mistake at next year’s COP meeting and ensure that sufficient adaptation financing is provided to meet the needs of the vulnerable.”

Do you want to understand what is going on at the intersection of sustainability? Checking out BusinessGreen Intelligence – the most important information for professionals focused on the UK’s green economy

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