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Extreme Weather Events Linked to Climate Change Cause Over $41 Billion in Global Damages

As millions of people in India grapple with blistering heat intensified by climate change, a new report by the UK-based NGO Christian Aid has revealed that extreme weather events have caused over $41 billion in damages globally since the international climate talks in Dubai (COP28) in December last year.

The report highlights the dire consequences of climate change, noting that four extreme weather events in the past six months, all scientifically linked to climate change, have resulted in the deaths of over 2,500 people. The non-profit organization criticizes the insufficient progress made since COP28 in reducing fossil fuel reliance and supporting lower-income countries in coping with climate disasters.

Extreme Weather Events

Christian Aid’s report underscores the catastrophic effects of climate change, detailing significant human and economic losses. The $41 billion figure is deemed an underestimate as it primarily accounts for insured losses.

Many of the worst-hit areas lack comprehensive insurance coverage, meaning the actual financial impact is likely much higher. Moreover, the report states that the human cost of these disasters is not fully captured in these figures, indicating a severe underreporting of the true extent of the crisis.

In Brazil, floods that killed at least 169 people and caused at least $7 billion in economic damages were made twice as likely by climate change. In South and Southwest Asia, flooding that killed at least 214 people and resulted in $850 million in insured damages in the UAE alone was also exacerbated by climate change.

Simultaneous heat waves in West, South, and Southeast Asia claimed over 1,500 lives in Myanmar, with heat deaths notoriously underreported. These heat waves are expected to slow economic growth and increase inflation, with experts stating that such events would have been impossible without climate change. In South and West Asia, the heatwaves were made five and 45 times more likely, respectively, and also hotter.

East Africa faced devastating flooding from cyclones that killed 559 people, an event made about twice as likely and more intense by climate change. These statistics paint a grim picture of the immediate and severe impacts of the climate crisis, emphasizing the urgent need for robust climate action and support for affected communities.

Call for Increased Funding and Climate Action

Christian Aid’s Global Advocacy Lead, Mariana Paoli, stresses the importance of recognizing the historic responsibility of rich countries, which are largely responsible for the greenhouse gases heating the atmosphere and fueling extreme weather events. Paoli calls for these nations to increase their funding to the Loss and Damage Fund to help other countries cope with and recover from extreme weather.

She advocates for creative and politically willful solutions, including taxing polluters and the super-rich to finance genuine climate action and canceling historic debt owed by poor countries to rich ones. This financial shift is essential for improving climate equity and ensuring that vulnerable populations are better protected from climate disasters.

The report also reminds countries of their commitment in 2015 to limit global average temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, and “preferably” to 1.5 degrees Celsius to prevent further worsening of climate impacts such as droughts, extreme rain, floods, sea level rise, cyclones, and heatwaves.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of leading climate scientists, the world needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 43 percent by 2030 (compared to 2019 levels) and at least 60 percent by 2035 to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Developing nations argue that they cannot be expected to reduce CO2 emissions faster if developed countries, which are historically responsible for climate change, do not provide enhanced financial support.

An agreement on the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) or a new climate finance goal will be a key issue at the upcoming United Nations climate conference (COP29) in Baku, Azerbaijan, in November.

The NCQG represents the new amount developed countries must mobilize every year from 2025 onwards to support climate action in developing countries. Rich countries are expected to raise more than the $100 billion they promised to provide annually from 2020 but have repeatedly failed to deliver.

As the second week of mid-year climate talks in Bonn began, these numbers demonstrate that the costs of the climate crisis are already being felt. Immediate and substantial action is required to mitigate further damage and support those most affected by climate change.

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