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Climate Change Losses Cost $200 Billion over Last Decade

From Environmental Leader, Published 18 November 2013

Economic losses from extreme weather events have risen from an annual global average of about $50 billion in the 1980s to close to $200 billion over the last decade, according to the report released by the World Bank.

Building Resilience: Integrating Climate and Disaster Risk into Development, cites the weather-related damage figure from Munich Re insurance group and warns that the poorest nations in Africa and Asia are among the most vulnerable to climate-related losses. It also says these financial losses are concentrated in fast-growing, middle-income countries because such countries’ high-value assets are becoming more exposed. The average impact of disasters in such nations equaled 1 percent of gross domestic product between 2001 and 2006 — 20 times higher than the average for high-income countries.

The World Bank says climate-resilient development is the answer — but warns it isn’t cheap, with upfront costs running as much as 50 percent higher than traditional development. These investments will pay off in the long-run, the report says.

A study to calculate the economic risk US industries face from climate change is being funded by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, billionaire Tom Steyer and George W. Bush-era Treasury secretary Henry Paulson.

If US businesses act now to reduce GHG emissions by an average of 3 percent annually, they can save up to $190 billion in 2020 alone, or $780 billion over 10 years, according to a report published in June by World Wildlife Fund and CDP.