The 10 worst climate catastrophes of 2022 cost lives, livelihoods and 158 billion euros in economic damage

The long heatwave and drought that ravaged Europe over the summer was among the costliest climate-related disasters of the year, with at least €20 billion in damage.

The costliest disaster was Hurricane Ian, which swept across the US and Cuba in late September and early October, causing €100 billion in damage.

But the greatest price in terms of impact on lives and livelihoods has been paid in Pakistan, where floods killed at least 1,739 people and displaced seven million during the summer months.

The financial cost was also huge, officially estimated at €5.6 billion, but the World Bank estimates it may be closer to €30 billion as much of the damage was uninsured, unlike in richer countries where insurance data provided much of it calculations.

An even greater human toll is emerging in the Horn of Africa.

Another year without rain has displaced, starved or killed 36 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.


A severely malnourished child at a UNICEF stabilization center in Dollow, Somalia. Image: Mark Condren

According to the Cost of Climate Breakdown report prepared by Christian Aid, climate disasters hit all parts of the world this year, but less developed countries bore a disproportionate burden.

“It is the world’s poorest countries that continue to be disproportionately affected despite having the fewest resources to adapt to deteriorating conditions or to rebuild from climate-related disasters,” said Ross Fitzpatrick of Christian Aid Ireland.

Mr Fitzpatrick took part in negotiations at the COP27 global climate summit last month, where an international agreement was reached to set up a ‘Loss and Damage’ fund for climate-damaged poor countries.

Christian Aid is now calling on the Irish Government and world leaders to urgently ensure that money flows into the fund.

“Tackling the climate crisis in a fair and equitable manner means ensuring that the polluter pays principle is at the heart of our response,” Fitzpatrick said.


A man with a gun walks with a family on a flooded street after Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc in North Port, Florida. Reuters

“Wealthy, polluting countries need to cut their own emissions, but also ensure they pay their global fair share of pledged financial assistance to countries on the front lines of the climate crisis.

“Ireland played an important role in approving the fund in November.

“Now we have to make sure that we and other wealthy countries contribute enough to make it work.”

The top 10 climate catastrophes together cost around 158 billion euros in economic damage.

After Hurricane Ian, which also killed 130 and displaced 40,000, and drought across Europe that ravaged crops, summer floods in China were the second-biggest disaster, costing at least €11.6 billion.


A man carries a cross through an area in Fort Myers where homes were destroyed by Hurricane Ian and says the cross will bring healing and love to hurricane victims. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty

Droughts elsewhere in China added another €8 billion in costs.

Severe flooding in eastern Australia in February and March killed 27 people, displaced 60,000 and cost 7 billion euros.

The official floods in Pakistan were next, followed by Storm Eunice, the cyclone that struck Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom and to a lesser extent Ireland in February.

Sixteen deaths have been caused by Eunice, including one in Ireland – that of Co Wexford Council worker Billy Kinsella, who was killed by a falling tree while clearing storm debris. The total financing costs were estimated at €4 billion.


Damage from Storm Eunice in Ballythomas, Co. Wexford

The drought in Brazil cost 3.8 billion euros, while April’s floods in South Africa caused 2.8 billion euros in damage, killing 459 people and displacing 40,000. September’s Hurricane Fiona in the Caribbean and Canada cost 2.8 billion euros, killed 27 and displaced 13,000 people.

Other climate-related disasters during the year that could not be quantified financially included wildfires in Chile, heat waves in India, Pakistan, the Arctic and Antarctic, and floods in Malaysia, Brazil, Mali, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger.

Together they caused several thousand deaths and displaced more than two million people. The 10 worst climate catastrophes of 2022 cost lives, livelihoods and 158 billion euros in economic damage

Fry Electronics Team

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