Climate Change Damages 200 bn Dollars Every Year

Environment - March 9, 2024


Philippines and USA are themost at risk countries while Italy is the most affected in the EU

Climate change represents one of the most urgent and serious challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. Its consequences are becoming more and more evident, and the associated costs are growing exponentially. According to a report by reinsurer Swiss Re, damages related to extreme weather events caused by climate change amount to a staggering $200 billion per year. This frightening number is expected to increase over the years, putting more and more people and nations at risk.

Among the countries most affected by these catastrophic events are the Philippines and the United States. The Philippines, with 3% of its annual GDP eroded by floods, tropical cyclones and other disasters, tops the list of most vulnerable nations. The United States, although losing only 0.4% of its GDP each year, suffers enormous absolute damages, reaching $97 billion annually. These numbers not only highlight the devastating scale of climate change on a global scale, but also reveal inequalities in the ability to address and mitigate impacts between more developed and developing nations.

Italy, in the European context, emerges as one of the countries most affected by climate change, with damages amounting to 37 billion dollars between 2013 and 2022. Surprisingly, only a small fraction of these damages (5 billion dollars) appears to have been insured, highlighting a huge “gap” in financial protection against climate risks, which amounts to 87%. This means that the vast majority of losses caused by climate disasters fall directly on the shoulders of Italian citizens and institutions, without an adequate safety net to mitigate the economic impacts.

In 2023, Italy experienced a series of extreme weather events, including thunderstorms and storms, which caused unprecedented damage, such as flooding in Emilia-Romagna and hail in Northern Italy. Insured losses from these events have exceeded $3 billion, signalling a climate emergency that requires decisive and immediate action. The Swiss reinsurer’s report warns that flood risk is set to grow on a global scale. While in the United States and East and Southeast Asia, tropical cyclones represent the meteorological event with the greatest economic impact. These predictions indicate that climate change is no longer a future threat, but a reality we must deal with now.

Countries with serious gaps in insurance protection and delays in adopting mitigation and adaptation measures are those most exposed to financial risks arising from intensifying climate disasters. It is imperative that nations act quickly to implement policies and investments aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting vulnerable communities and promoting climate resilience. Italy, together with other European and international countries, must take a leadership role in the fight against climate change. This means adopting more ambitious policies for the transition to a low-carbon economy, investing in climate-resilient infrastructure and ensuring greater insurance coverage against climate risks. Furthermore, it is essential to promote scientific research and technological innovation to develop creative and sustainable solutions to tackle climate change.

The cost of damage caused by climate change is not only financial, but also social, environmental and human. The most vulnerable communities are often the hardest hit, with devastating consequences for food security, public health and economic stability. Addressing this crisis requires a global and coordinated commitment from governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations and citizens around the world. The time to act is now. Ignoring the signs of climate change or procrastinating in taking effective measures will have catastrophic consequences for future generations. We must act with urgency and determination to protect our planet and build a sustainable future for the next generations.