10 weather disasters caused $170B in damage this year: report

The world’s 10 costliest weather disasters of 2021 caused more than $170 billion worth of damage, according to a new report from a U.K.-based aid group. 

The group Christian Aid puts out an annual report quantifying the costs of the worst weather disasters. The 10 disasters it highlighted for 2021 were together $20 billion costlier than the 10 disasters the group highlighted in 2020. 

The group said that the costs it estimates are also based only on insured losses, meaning the actual costs of these events may be higher.

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Report author Kat Kramer, Christian Aid’s climate policy lead, described the costs as “grave.”

“The costs of climate change have been grave this year, both in terms of eyewatering financial losses but also in the death and displacement of people around the world,” Kramer said in a statement. 

“Be it storms and floods in some of the world’s richest countries or droughts and heatwaves in some of the poorest, the climate crisis hit hard in 2021. While it was good to see some progress made at the COP26 summit, it is clear that the world is not on track to ensure a safe and prosperous world,” Kramer said. 

Climate change has been linked to extreme weather events including heat waves, heavy precipitation, droughts and more extreme hurricanes. 

The report comes as policymakers — both in the U.S. and elsewhere — seek to determine how to factor in the cost of climate change-related damage, or potential savings from fewer climate impacts, into their decisionmaking. 

The Christian Aid report found that 2021’s three most costly disasters occurred in the U.S. and Europe, but it noted that financial costs are usually higher in richer countries because they can afford insurance and because they have higher property values. 

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The most expensive event identified in the report was Hurricane Ida, which made landfall in Louisiana in August, and later made its way to the Northeast. Christian Aid said that this event cost $65 billion.

July floods in Europe were the second costliest disaster identified, causing $43 billion in damage.

This was followed by February’s winter storm in Texas, which cost $23 billion.