Weather-related disasters becoming more frequent: UN report

Livemint, 24 November

Weather-related disasters have become more frequent in the past 20 years, according to a United Nations report, which attributed this to a rise in the number of floods and storms.

An average of 335 weather-related disasters were recorded per year between 2005 and 2014, an increase of 14 % from 1995-2004, and almost twice the level recorded during 1985-95.

The report, entitled The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters, also found the five countries hit by the highest number of disasters were the US, China, India, the Philippines and Indonesia.

According to the report jointly prepared by Belgian-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Asia accounts for the “lion’s share of disaster impacts” including 332,000 deaths and 3.7 billion people affected.

Flooding alone accounted for almost half of all weather related disasters between 1995 and 2015, affecting 2.3 billion people, out of which 95% live in Asia.

“Weather and climate are major drivers of disaster risk and this report demonstrates that the world is paying a high price in lives lost,” Margareta Wahlström, head of UNISDR, said in a statement. “Economic losses are a major development challenge for many least developed countries battling climate change and poverty.”

Storms were the most deadly type of weather-related disaster, killing more than 242,000 people in the past 21 years; that is 40% of the global total for all weather-related disasters. A large proportion of deaths, 89%, occurred in lower-income countries even though they experienced just 26% of all storms.

Heatwaves and extreme cold were also found to be deadly causing 405 deaths per disaster on average. In high-income countries, 76% of weather-related disaster deaths were due to extreme temperatures, mainly heatwaves.

The report comes ahead of the climate change summit at the year’s end in Paris where countries will seek to seal a pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming

“We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle other risk drivers such as unplanned urban development, environmental degradation and gaps in early warnings,” said Debarati Guha-Sapir, the head of CRED.. “This all requires ensuring people are risk informed and strengthening institutions which manage disaster risk,” she added.

UN Report: Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters PDF

Original article Weather-related disasters becoming more frequent: UN report

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