$129 bn in extreme weather losses last year

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Extreme weather caused some $129 billion (111 billion euros) in economic losses last year, said a report Tuesday that warned the bill will keep climbing as climate change boosts droughts, storms and floods.

There was a 46-percent increase in weather disasters from 2010 to 2016, with 797 “extreme” events recorded last year, according to research published in The Lancet medical journal.

These “resulted in $129 billion in overall economic losses” a figure roughly matching the budget of Finland.

Losses were counted as damage to physical assets and did not include the “economic value” of deaths, injury or disease caused by extreme events.

An observed increase in weather disasters in recent years, the report said, cannot yet be unequivocally be attribute to climate change.

But the evidence “might plausibly be interpreted as showing how climate change is changing the frequency and severity of these events”, the authors wrote.

Climate scientists are loath to blame any particular weather event on global warming — a phenomenon that needs to be monitored over decades.

But looking to the future, the authors are under no illusions that climate change will fuel the “frequency and severity” of tropical storms, droughts and flooding around the world.

The finances of poor countries are disproportionately hard hit, said the report compiled by experts from 24 academic institutions and inter-governmental bodies including the World Health Organization and World Meteorological Organization.

Their losses from freak weather events were more than three times higher in 2016 than in 2010, and as a proportion of GDP, much greater than in rich nations.

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