Climate Change

Most expensive disaster in 2022: Hurricane Ian caused losses and damages worth $100bn, says report

Floods in Pakistan, west and southern Africa and drought in Europe also feature in the list of 2022’s most expensive disasters

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Tuesday 27 December 2022
Destruction caused by Hurricane Ian in Florida. Photo: iStock

Hurricane Ian was the most expensive climate-related disaster of 2022. It caused losses and damages worth $100 billion, when it hit the United States and Cuba in September, according to a report by Christian Aid, an international development charity.

The report, Counting the cost 2022: a year of climate breakdown, listed the top 10 extreme events caused by climate change that cost the world billions. These 10 extreme weather events cost more than $168 billion in damages.

No corner of the globe was spared from the costliest climate impacts of 2022 with all six populated continents — Europe, Australia, Africa, Asia, North America and South America represented in the top 10, the report said.

Most expensive events         

Date Continent Events Location Deaths Displaced Cost (USD)
February 14-19  Europe Storm Eunice Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK 16   +4.3 billion
February 23-March 31 Australia East Australia floods Australia 27 60,000+ +7.5 billion
April 8-15  Africa KwaZulu Natal & Eastern Cape floods South Africa 459 40,000+ +3.0 billion
June 14 to September Asia Pakistan Floods Pakistan 1,739 7.0 million +5.6 billion
June to September Asia China Floods China 0 239 +12.3 billion
June to September Europe European drought       +20 billion
September 14-28  North America Hurricane Fiona The Caribbean, Canada +25 13,000 +3 billion
September 23-October 2 North America Hurricane Ian Cuba, the US 130 +40,000 +100 billion
All Year South America Brazil drought Brazil 0 0 +4 billion
All Year Asia China drought China 0 0 +8.4 billion

Source: Counting the cost 2022: a year of climate breakdown

Most of these estimates are based only on insured losses. The true financial costs are likely to be higher as human costs are often uncounted.

The study showed that costs are usually higher in richer countries as they have higher property values and can afford insurance.

Europe’s drought racked up costs of $20bn, reduced crop yields, driving up prices. Animal-derived products such as meat and milk were also affected, increasing their prices by about 12 per cent.

The biggest impact in terms of human costs was caused by the Pakistan floods from June to September. The floods caused 1,739 deaths and displaced seven million people.

According to the report, the total financial cost of the Pakistan floods was $5.6bn. However, this figure constituted only insured losses and the true cost of the floods was estimated to be more than $30bn.

Pakistan experienced the most devastating and widespread floods in its history, with the country’s climate minister saying waters spread across a third of the nation.

Alongside the 10 most expensive events, the report also highlighted 10 other noteworthy climate-related events in 2022.

These include floods in Malaysia, Brazil and west Africa, long-running drought in the Horn of Africa, heatwaves in India and Pakistan, the Arctic and Antarctica, wildfires in Chile, storms in southeast Africa and the Philippines, and a tropical cyclone in Bangladesh.

The report said West African floods in Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali and Niger in October led to the death of more than 600 people and the displacement of 1.3 million while Cyclone Sitrang in Bangladesh displaced a million.

Floods in Malaysia and Petropolis, Brazil displaced 70,000 and 1,400, respectively and 850,000 people had to move due to Tropical Storm Nalgae in the Philippines.

Patrick Watt, Christian Aid CEO said:

Having 10 separate climate disasters in the last year that each cost more than $3 billion points to the financial cost of inaction on the climate crisis. But behind the dollar figures lie millions of stories of human loss and suffering. Without major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, this human and financial toll will only increase.

Christian Aid underlined the importance of the loss and damage fund — recently agreed at the 27th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change — to provide financial support to people in developing countries who have suffered huge losses due to climate crises.

All governments must invest in the energy transition to renewables. Richer countries should support developing countries so they can leapfrog the fossil fuelled development path taken by richer nations. Poor consumers need to be protected to make energy transitions just and sustainable, Christian Aid said.

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