High-resolution satellite image of Super Typhoon Haiyan at its peak intensity on 7 November 2013. Photo: NOAA / CIRA

By Nina Chestney; Editing by Louise Heavens
18 November 2013

WARSAW (Reuters) – Global economic losses caused by extreme weather events have risen to nearly $200 billion a year over the last decade and look set to increase further as climate change worsens, a report by the World Bank showed on Monday.

A United Nations' panel of scientists has warned that floods, droughts, and storms are likely to become more severe over the next century as greenhouse gas emissions warm the world's climate.

"Economic losses are rising - from $50 billion each year in the 1980s to just under $200 billion each year in the last decade and about three quarters of those losses are a result of extreme weather," said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development.

"While you cannot connect any single weather event to climate change, scientists have warned that extreme weather events will increase in intensity if climate change is left unchecked."

Reinsurance company Munich Re has estimated total reported losses from disasters were $3.8 trillion from 1980 to 2012, attributing 74 percent of those to extreme weather.

More than 3,900 people have been killed in Typhoon Haiyan which hit the Philippines, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded.

The typhoon threw a spotlight on the impact of climate change and coincided with the start of November 11-22 talks in Warsaw, Poland, where governments are trying to draw up a plans to slow its effects. […]

Although weather-related disasters can affect all countries, the most severe economic and human losses are expected in rapidly growing countries, such as those in Asia, which are building their economies in areas vulnerable to floods, droughts and extreme temperatures, the World Bank said.

The average impact of disasters on such countries equalled 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from 2001 to 2006 - ten times higher than the average for high-income countries, the World Bank said.

But climate impacts will especially cripple poorer countries. Hurricane Tomas in 2010, for example, devastated St Lucia and caused losses of 43 percent of GDP. [more]

Losses from extreme weather rise to $200 billion a year over past decade

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