Factbox-COP27: Counting the rising cost of climate disasters

November 16, 2022 10:16 PM AEDT | By Reuters
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(Reuters) - Climate change has raised the cost of natural disasters, as rising sea levels and drought increase the frequency and severity of flooding and wildfires, insurers and risk modelling experts say.

The list of the 10 most expensive events of the last decade provided to Reuters by risk modelling firm RMS all took place over the past five years.

While the biggest losses are in richer countries with more expensive assets, developing countries such as Pakistan, which suffered flooding this year that cost an estimated $3 billion, often bear the brunt of damaging weather events.

How to get money to poorer countries after climate disasters has been a dominant theme at the COP27 climate talks in Egypt, and insurance is seen as one way to do that.

On Monday, a G7-led plan dubbed "Global Shield" to provide pre-arranged insurance and disaster protection funding to countries suffering climate disasters was launched at the climate conference.

The disasters are ranked by economic losses, both insured and uninsured, with the costliest first.

1. California wildfires 2017-2018

After a multi-year drought in California, numerous fires destroyed more than 100 million trees.

Worst fires: Tubbs Fire Oct 2017, Camp Fire Nov 2018

2017 loss: $180 billion

2017 deaths: 40

2018 loss: $148.5 billion

2018 deaths: 103

Total loss: $328.5 billion

2. Atlantic hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria Aug-Sept 2017

The three hurricanes devastated parts of Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

Harvey loss: $125 billion

Harvey deaths: 88

Irma loss: $65 billion

Irma deaths: 134

Maria loss: $107 billion

Maria deaths: 4,600

Total loss: $297 billion

3. Australian bushfires 2019-2020

Nearly 11 months of fires affected 80% of Australians and killed or displaced at least three billion animals.

Total loss: $110 billion

Deaths: 34

4. Hurricane Ian, Florida, Sept 2022

The hurricane hit southwestern Florida and South Carolina, with a 4-metre high storm surge on the west coast of Florida.

Total loss: more than $100 billion

Deaths: 101

5. Hurricane Ida Aug 2021

The hurricane hit Louisiana and also brought heavy rain and flooding to New Jersey and New York.

Total loss: $75 billion

Deaths: 107

6. Floods in Germany and Belgium July 2021

Between July 12-15 2021, intense rainfall caused record river levels and left a trail of destruction, mainly in Belgium and Germany but also in Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Total loss: 40 billion euros

Deaths: 230

7. Typhoons Faxai and Hagibis in Japan Aug-Oct 2019

The two typhoons hit central and eastern Japan, with Faxai causing 900,000 homes to lose power, while more than seven million people were told to evacuate due to Hagibis.

Faxai loss: $9.1 billion

Hagibis loss: $17 billion

Hagibis deaths: 85

Total loss: $26.1 billion

8. European heatwave summer 2022

Central Europe suffered three heatwaves over the course of the summer, including the hottest temperature so far measured in Britain at 40.3 degrees Celsius (104.54°F).

Total loss: more than 10 billion euros ($10.43 billion)

Deaths: 1,500 as a result of excess heat

9. Northwestern U.S. and British Columbia Canada heatwave June-July 2021

An extreme heatwave from June 25 to July 1 across western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest, caused many wildfires.

Total loss: $8.9 billion

Fatalities: 1,400 as a result of excess heat

10. Pakistan floods June-Aug 2022

Intense monsoon rains and unusual heat in the Karakoram Mountains led to unprecedented glacial melt, starting floods on June 14. Floodwaters in flat-lying Indus floodplains took months to recede. The floods displaced eight million people.

Total loss: $3 billion

Deaths: 1,717

Source: RMS

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($1 = 0.9588 euros)

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn and Simon Jessop; editing by Barbara Lewis)


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