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Climate-related disasters cost hits Sh225tr, says UN

Switzerland, Wednesday

The economic cost of climate-related disasters hit $2.25 trillion  (Sh225 trillion) over the last two decades, an increase of more than 150 per cent compared to the previous 20 years, the UN said Wednesday.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) noted that “climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events” such as floods and storms. 

Between 1978-1997, total losses for climate-related disasters was $895 billion (Sh89.6 billion), UNISDR said in a report based on data compiled by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) at the Universite Catholique de Louvain in Belgium.

But between 1998-2017 that figure hit $2.25 trillion, the report said, listing the United States, China, Japan and India as the countries where the financial toll has been highest.

The findings were released as Michael, a Category Four hurricane, rumbled towards the Gulf Coast of Florida, in the latest storm to threaten vast destruction across the eastern US.

“The report’s analysis makes it clear that economic losses from extreme weather events are unsustainable and a major brake on eradicating poverty in hazard exposed parts of the world,” said the UN secretary general’s special representative for disaster reduction, Mami Mizutori.

UNISDR counted the number of climate-related disasters between 1998-2017 at more than 6,600, with storms and floods the most common events.

The report notes gaps in data collection, but says the findings clearly show investing in disaster risk reduction must become a central part of policy making in response to climate change.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said he has yet to read a UN report warning of global warming-caused chaos unless drastic action is taken and added that he is skeptical.

The landmark report released Monday said that time is running out to avert climate-induced disaster.

The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) declared it had “high confidence” in its predictions. At the White House, Trump said he has not read it yet.

“It was given to me and I want to look who drew it, you know — which groups drew it, because I can give you reports that are fabulous and I can give you reports that aren’t so good,” he told reporters. “But I will be reading it.”

It was Trump’s first reaction to the report, which says that the Earth surface has warmed one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) and is on track toward an unliveable 3°C or 4°C rise. —AFP

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