A new report from NGO Christian Aid identifies and quantifies 15 of the most destructive weather events of 2019. All of the disasters (floods, cyclones, typhoons, hurricanes, tropical storms) caused damage of over US$1 billion, and four of them cost at least $10 billion (figures are likely to be underestimates as they often show only insured losses and do not always take into account other financial costs, such as lost productivity and uninsured losses).
The disasters were widespread throughout the globe but the worst impact was on lesser developed countries: there were an estimated 1,300 deaths in Africa due to Cyclone Idai and 1,900 in India from monsoon flooding. But even more developed economies were unable to protect its citizenry: 673 deaths were recorded in the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian.
The recorded financial cost was greatest in richer countries: Japan and the US suffered three of the four most costly events. The conclusion is irrefutable: climate change is getting costlier and deadlier.
"The great tragedy of climate change is that it is the poorest and most vulnerable who suffer the most, despite us doing the least to cause it," Dr. Adelle Thomas from the University of the Bahamas said in a press release. "However as this year has shown, no continent is immune from global warming and its impacts."
While 2019 set a record for climate-related disasters, there was also a record set for popular protests demanding more responsible and urgent political action. Christian Aid has called for a rapid and urgent decrease in global emissions and suggests that COP 26 in Glasgow in November will convene the biggest climate summit since Paris in 2015.
In advance the NGO has set targets:
- Countries need to upgrade national climate plans (or NDCs) and tighten these commitments since last made in 2015.
- Nations must also commit to a net zero emissions target date, by which time they will stop making the climate crisis worse.
- Developed economies must mobilize the $100 Billion USD per annum that was promised in 2009 to assist developing countries to reduce emissions and deploy adaption measures.
The report warns that "2019 was not the new normal. The world's weather will continue to become ever-more extreme and people around the world will continue to pay the price. The challenge ahead is to minimize the impacts through deep and rapid emissions cuts."