With global environmental organizations constantly warning dire consequences of climate change, a study released by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction has revealed that disaster-related economic losses globally stood at about $3 trillion in the last two decades. India has been among the top five countries with absolute economic losses of about $79.5 billion between 1998 to 2017.
The US topped the list with $945 billion of disaster-related economic losses during the period, followed by China ($492 billion), Japan ($376 billion) and India ($79.5 billion). At least 91% of all major disasters recorded from 1998 to 2017 were climate-related, recording 7,255 events during the period, showed the report titled as ‘Economic Losses, Poverty and Disasters 1998-2017’, which evaluated total disaster-related economic losses and fatalities in last two decades.
Storms, droughts, floods, earthquake, extreme temperature and Tsunami were the disaster type responsible for the majority of losses.
While high-income countries posted losses from 53% of disasters between 1998 and 2017, low-income countries only reported them from 13% of disasters. Therefore, no losses data was available for about 87% of disasters in low-income countries, it added.
During the period disaster-hit nations registered economic losses of $2.9 trillion, of which climate-related disasters accounted for $2.2 trillion or 77% of the total, as per the report, which compared with the total losses of $1,313, due to climate-related disasters in the previous two decades (1978-1997). This is up from 68% of losses reported between 1978 and 1997. Overall, reported losses from extreme weather events rose by 151% between these two 20-year periods, it added.
“It is also clear that the economic losses suffered by low and lower-middle income countries have crippling consequences for their future development and undermine our efforts to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, the eradication of poverty,” it said in the report.
The report also revealed that while absolute economic losses might be concentrated in high-income countries, the human cost of disasters falls on low- and lower-middle-income countries. About 91% of all disasters happened during this period were caused by floods, storms, droughts, heatwaves and other extreme weather events.
An average of 130 people died per million living in disaster-affected areas in low-income countries, according to the report, when compared to 18 in high-income countries, in disasters since 2000.