The world continued to tackle covid-19 in 2021 but the climate change crisis didn’t stop. In fact, it became worse. A new report from the UK-based non-profit Christian Aid looks at the ten most financially devastating climate events of 2021, from hurricanes in the US, China and India to floods in Australia, Europe and Canada.
The report, Counting the cost 2021: A year of climate breakdown, says the top ten most expensive events financially all cost over $1.5 billion of damage with Hurricane Ida in the US topping the list at $65 billion. The floods in Europe came second at $43 billion. Here’s a look at some other figures from the report, which was released on Monday.
Tropical cyclones Tauktae, Yaas inflicted massive economic damage in India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bangladesh: In May, tropical cyclone Tauktae formed in the Arabian Sea and moved towards the west coast of India, also affecting Sri Lanka and the Maldives. As the report explains, Tauktae was the strongest cyclone to make landfall in Gujarat since 1999. The resulting rainfall, intense winds and flooding, left damages totalling to more than $1.5 billion and killed at least 198 people.
On the other hand, Cyclone Yaas, which impacted India and Bangladesh in May, forced thousands of people to leave their homes. More than 10,000 villages were damaged in Odisha alone. Economic losses from Yaas were estimated at $3 billion, the report adds.
Hurricane Ida was the costliest global disaster this year: The Category 4 hurricane hit several parts of the United States in late August and early September. It was the fifth strongest hurricane to make landfall in the country and caused flash floods in many northeast states, including Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. In total, according to the report, Ida caused damages amounting to $65 billion.
Western and central Europe floods were the second most financially devastating climate event of 2021: Extreme rainfall hit parts of Europe in the middle of July. Some regions around the Ahr and Erft rivers in Germany experienced more than 90mm of rainfall over a single day. The resulting floods killed at least 240 people and caused widespread damage, with economic losses estimated at more than $43 billion.
True cost of the Texas winter storm could be much more: More than 150 million people were placed under winter storm warnings during the Texas winter storm in February. Texas also suffered a massive power outage that led to shortages of basic supplies, leaving around five million people without electricity. According to the report, insured losses were calculated at $23 billion, but the total economic impact could be as high as $200 billion.
Many other disasters in 2021 caused damage to people or ecosystems: While many disasters took a massive financial toll, there was widespread damage in other parts of the world owing to deforestation, droughts and other aspects of climate change. In South Sudan, intense flooding has affected more than 800,000 people in the last few months. The United Nations has described the situation as “the worst flooding in decades.” Severe drought has left around 60 million people facing food insecurity in east Africa, while an unprecedented heatwave, at the end of June and in the early days of July, brought hugely record-breaking temperatures to some parts of West North America. The report explains: an analysis released in November estimated that 595 people had died in British Columbia, Canada, as a consequence of the heatwave, 231 of them in a single day.