THE United Nations (UN) World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says the climate-related disasters that occurred in the last 50 years killed over 2 million people and resulted in economic damages worth $4.3 trillion.
The WMO, a specialised agency of the UN whose mandate covers weather, climate and water resources, disclosed this in a report released on Monday, May 22.
According to the report, climate-related hazards caused close to 11,778 disasters between 1970 and 2021.
The WMO said the developing countries were hit hardest. It noted that more than 90 per cent of deaths reported worldwide due to these disasters occurred in developing countries.
The new figures by the global organisation showed that developing countries experienced nine in 10 deaths and 60 per cent of economic losses from climate shocks and extreme weather.
The WMO said undeveloped countries and small Island developing states suffered a “disproportionately” high cost compared to the size of their economies.
According to the WMO, in Africa droughts accounted for 95 per cent of the reported 733,585 climate disaster deaths.
Speaking on the report, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said: “The most vulnerable communities unfortunately bear the brunt of weather, climate and water-related hazards.”
He said Cyclone Mocha, which wreaked havoc in Myanmar and Bangladesh last week, exemplified this reality.
Cyclone Mocha is a violent and destructive storm brewing in the Bay of Bengal and making headlines across India.
Taaalas said during disasters similar to Mocha in the past, “both Myanmar and Bangladesh suffered death tolls of tens and even hundreds of thousands of people”.
He said Myanmar’s military government had put the death toll from the latest cyclone at 145, but there are fears the number is higher.
He says the severe storm “caused widespread devastation, impacting the poorest of the poor”.
The WMO had earlier reported that floods and heatwaves, driven by climate change, have increased fivefold over the past 50 years.
In a report released in 2021, the organisation showed an accelerating trend, with the number of disasters increasing nearly five-fold from the 1970s to the most recent decade.
The organisation noted signs that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent due to global warming.
The WMO attributed the growing frequency to climate change and improved disaster reporting.
Last week, the WMO predicted that the next five years might be the hottest period ever due to greenhouse gas emissions.
“There is a 98-per cent likelihood that at least one of the next five years, and the five-year period as a whole, will be the warmest on record,” the WMO said.
“Global temperatures are soon set to exceed the more ambitious target set out in the Paris Climate Accords, with a two-thirds chance that one of the next five years will do so.”