Hurricane Sandy forced third-most people from homes worldwide in 2012

Sandy amounted to the world’s third largest displacement event last year, according to the report. It followed on the heels of a massive flood in northeast India and flood and typhoon incidents in China.

In all, Sandy cost an estimated $71 billion of damage in the United States, the report noted. Thousands still have not returned home, with the state of New Jersey estimating 39,000 families remain displaced.

The report said climate- and weather-related incidents accounted for 98 percent of global displacement from disasters last year. 

Climate scientists have avoided connecting individual extreme weather events to climate change, instead arguing that its effects — such as warmer waters and higher sea levels — intensify storms.

Still, Democrats and President Obama have invoked Hurricane Sandy, wildfires and widespread drought in calls to address climate change.

Legislation is unlikely amid a Republican-controlled House and a Senate timid on climate issues. That prompted Obama to say in his February State of the Union speech that he would go it alone on climate through executive action if necessary.

More in E2-Wire

Grueling Keystone fight to hit new Senate

Read more »