Climate change-fuelled extreme weather events cost at least USD 41 bn globally since COP28

Delegates at the UN climate negotiations in Dubai in December agreed on a new loss and damage fund to address the impacts of climate change disproportionately affecting poor communities in the Global South.
Climate change-fuelled extreme weather events cost at least USD 41 bn globally since COP28

New Delhi (PTI): As millions of people in India grapple with blistering heat intensified by climate change, a new report has said extreme weather events have caused over USD 41 billion in damages globally since the international climate talks in Dubai (COP28) in December last year.

The report by the UK-based NGO Christian Aid said four extreme weather events in the past six months -- all scientifically shown to have been made more likely and/or more intense by climate change -- killed over 2,500 people.

The non-profit organisation said insufficient progress has been made since COP28 in the UAE to move away from fossil fuels or to support lower-income countries in coping with climate disasters.

As the second week of mid-year climate talks in Bonn began on Monday, it said these numbers demonstrate that the costs of the climate crisis are already being felt.

"Rich countries, responsible for the lion's share of the greenhouse gases that are heating the atmosphere and fuelling extreme events, should recognise their historic responsibility and increase their funding to the Loss and Damage Fund to help other countries cope with and recover from extreme weather," Christian Aid said.

Delegates at the UN climate negotiations in Dubai in December agreed on a new loss and damage fund to address the impacts of climate change disproportionately affecting poor communities in the Global South.

The USD 41 billion in damages is an underestimate, according to the charity. Only insured losses are typically reported, and many of the worst disasters have occurred in countries where few people or businesses have insurance, the report said.

The human cost of disasters is also not fully captured in these figures, it added.

According to the report, floods that killed at least 169 people in Brazil and caused at least USD 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 caused USD 850 million in insured damages in the UAE alone was also made more likely by climate change, it said.

Simultaneous heatwaves in West, South, and Southeast Asia killed over 1,500 people in Myanmar alone, with heat deaths notoriously underreported, the report said.

The report said the heatwave is expected to slow growth and increase inflation, and in Southeast Asia, it would have been completely impossible without climate change. In South and West Asia, it was made five and 45 times more likely, respectively, and also hotter.

Flooding from cyclones in East Africa killed 559 people and was made about twice as likely and also more intense by climate change, it said.

"We cannot heal the burns caused by the climate crisis while we are still throwing fossil fuels on the fire," Mariana Paoli, Christian Aid's Global Advocacy Lead, who is from Brazil, said.

"We need rich countries, who are largely responsible for causing the climate crisis, to massively scale up funding for climate action. They need to show real creativity and political will, and tax polluters and the super-rich to finance genuine climate action. We need to cancel historic debt owed to rich countries by poor ones, and instead ensure that money is used to improve climate equity, helping everyone to be safer from climate disasters," Paoli said.

The report mentioned that countries in 2015 agreed 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, heatwaves etc.

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

Earth's global surface temperature has already increased by around 1.15 degrees Celsius compared to the average in 1850-1900 due to the rapidly increasing concentration of greenhouse gases -- primarily carbon dioxide and methane -- in the atmosphere.

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

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

NCQG is the new amount developed countries must mobilise every year from 2025 onwards to support climate action in developing countries. Rich countries are expected to raise more than the USD100 billion they promised to provide every year from 2020 but repeatedly failed.

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