The Asian region was warming faster than the global average, and the economic losses from the consequent extreme weather events like floods and droughts amounted to more than US$ 35 billion in 2021, including at least US$ 7.5 billion in India, a new report from the World Meteorological Organisation has said.
Average temperatures over Asia in 2021 was about 0.86 degree Celsius higher than the average of the 1981-2010 period. The global average temperatures in 2021 were only about 0.42 degree Celsius higher than 1981-2010 period, the State of Climate in Asia report by the WMO said.
For regional warming, the WMO does not use the pre-industrial reference period to measure the temperature increases because of the lack of adequate data. The temperature rises are instead expressed relative to more recent 30-year year reference periods.
The year 2021 was slightly cooler for Asia than 2020 because of the prolonged La Nina, but it was still between the fifth and seventh warmest year on record. However, in China, Hong Kong and Bahrain, the year 2021 was the warmest on record, the report said.
There were more than 100 weather-related disasters in Asia in 2021, which resulted in over 4,000 deaths, and economic losses worth at least US$ 35.6 billion. Floods caused the maximum damage, and deaths, while droughts affected the maximum number of people.
The WMO report said economic losses from extreme weather events were showing an increasing trend. The losses from droughts, for example, in 2021 were at least 63 per cent higher than the average of the last 20 years. Losses from floods were 23 per cent higher.
“In 2021, flooding caused the highest economic losses in China (US$ 18.4 billion), followed by India (US$ 3.2 billion) and Thailand (US$ 0.6 billion). Storms (Cyclones) also caused significant economic damage, especially in India (US$ 4.4 billion), China (US$ 3.0 billion) and Japan (US$ 2 billion),” the report said.
As a result, countries would need to spend increasing amounts of money in resilience and adaptation efforts.
“In Asia, the highest adaptation cost is estimated for China at US$ 188.8 billion (every year), followed by India at US$ 46.3 billion, and Japan at US$ 26.3 billion. As a percentage of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the highest cost is estimated for Nepal at 1.9 per cent of GDP, followed by Cambodia at 1.8 per cent, and India at 1.3 per cent,” the report said.