LONDON — From floods to extreme heat, 10 of the worst climate-linked disasters in 2018 caused at least US$84.8 billion (S$117 billion) worth of damage, said a study released by the charity Christian Aid on Thursday (Dec 27).
Extreme weather driven by climate change hit every populated continent this year, the British relief organisation said, warning urgent action was needed to combat global warming.
"This report shows that for many people, climate change is having devastating impacts on their lives and livelihoods right now," said Dr Kat Kramer, who heads Christian Aid's work on climate issues, in a statement.
Experts say a warming world will lead to sweltering heatwaves, more extreme rainfall, shrinking harvests and worsening water shortages, causing both monetary losses and human misery.
Almost 200 nations are aiming to limit the rise in average world temperatures under the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, though some warn progress to meet targets has been slow.
The 20 warmest years on record have been within the last 22 years, the United Nations said last month, with 2018 on track to be the fourth hottest.
The most expensive climate-linked weather events of 2018 were Hurricanes Florence and Michael, which caused at least US$32 billion worth of damage as they slammed into the United States, the Caribbean and parts of central America, the report said.
The United States also suffered at least US$9 billion of losses from wildfires that caused dozens of deaths and destroyed thousands of homes in California.
[So $32b + $9b = $US$41b or almost half of the $85b estimated is borne by the US. Good move byTrump pulling out of the Paris accord.]
Japan was badly hit by severe floods over the summer, followed by the powerful Typhoon Jebi in autumn, which together caused more than US$9.3 billion in damages, said the report.
It also cited droughts in Europe, floods in southern India and Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines and China among the most expensive climate-linked disasters of 2018.
The report's authors collated total cost figures using data from sources including governments, banks and insurance firms, though in some cases the figures only covered insured losses and also failed to take account of the human costs of such events.
They added that rising temperatures would continue to drive extreme weather events as they urged action to prevent further global warming which would impact the poorest and most vulnerable communities hardest.
"The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle," said Professor Michael Mann, professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State University, in a statement on the study.
"The world's weather is becoming more extreme before our eyes — the only thing that can stop this destructive trend from escalating is a rapid fall in carbon emissions."
China with a billion people are just beginning to enter middle-class and to enjoy the comfort and luxuries it brings. When they do, they will be using electric heaters, hot water, air-conditioning, air purifiers, the internet, and private vehicles.
1) Americans and Chinese giving up their cars.2) Hoping (most of) India does not reach middle class.3) Convincing people to go vegan or at least eat less meat.4) Use less electricity.5) All the above within 10 to 12 years.