World leaders have called for a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy to increase resilience to climate change

BATHINDA: A new report by international development charity Christian Aid has warned that world leaders must stop all expansion of coal, oil and gas into fossil fuels and shift to investing in renewable energy and climate resilience or face economic and human costs extreme weather conditions will worsen dramatically.

Extreme weather has caused at least $41 billion in damage in the six months since the last major climate conference, Cop28, according to the report. Not enough progress has been made since Cop28 in the UAE to transition away from fossil fuels or to support lower-income countries in dealing with climate disasters.

As the second week of climate talks in Bonn begins, these numbers show that the costs of the climate crisis are already being paid. Negotiators in Bonn are working to create a “Loss and Damage Fund” to unlock financial flows to lower-income countries affected by extreme weather. This financing was a major sticking point during Cop28, as wealthier countries were slow to agree to the necessary investments.

The scale of damage from floods and heatwaves caused by fossil fuels shows that the climate crisis is here and getting worse, and rich countries must step up and pay their fair share into the loss and damage fund and ensure that these funds are immediately available.

“Rich countries, responsible for the lion’s share of the greenhouse gases that heat the atmosphere and cause extreme events, should recognize their historic responsibility and increase funding for the Loss and Damage Fund to help other countries cope with and recover from extreme weather,” it says. in a report by Christian Aid.

The charity says the $41 billion damage is an underestimate. Only insured losses are usually reported, and many of the worst disasters hit countries where few people and companies have insurance. These numbers also do not take into account the human costs of disasters, from those who lost their lives to those whose homes were destroyed or who lost their jobs or education.

The report sheds light on four extreme weather events that have occurred since the last major international climate talks, and all four have been scientifically linked to climate change.

Floods in Brazil, which have killed at least 169 people and caused at least $7 billion in economic damage, are twice as likely to be caused by climate change. In south and southwest Asia, floods that killed at least 214 people and caused $850 million in insured damage in the United Arab Emirates alone have also become more likely due to climate change. Simultaneous heatwaves across western, southern and southeastern Asia have killed more than 1,500 people in Myanmar alone, and heat-related deaths are notoriously under-reported. The heatwave is expected to slow economic growth and increase inflation, with this being completely impossible in Southeast Asia without climate change, while in South and Western Asia it was 5 and 45 times more likely, respectively, and also warmer. Cyclone-triggered flooding in East Africa has killed 559 people, and climate change has made flooding about twice as likely and more intense.

The report explains how climate change is already affecting life at all scales. These floods and heatwaves disrupted children’s education, making it harder for many people to escape poverty. They have caused massive damage to crops and livestock, causing food insecurity in some places and price inflation in others. Extreme heat and flooding compounded existing crises for refugees and conflict-affected people, and even impacted the world’s largest democratic event as many Indians struggled to vote in unsafe temperatures.

“We cannot heal the burn from the climate crisis while we continue to add fossil fuels to the fire,” said Mariana Paoli, global advocacy leader for Christian Aid in Brazil. “We need rich countries that are largely responsible for causing the climate crisis to massively increase climate finance. They need to show real creativity and political will, as well as tax polluters and the super-rich to finance real climate action. We must write off the historic debt owed by poor countries to rich countries and instead make sure that money is used to improve climate equity to help everyone become safer from climate disasters.”

Nushrat Chowdhury, climate justice advisor at Christian Aid Bangladesh, said: “Last week, Cyclone Remal hit Bangladesh, killing people and destroying livelihoods. More than 150,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. This is the kind of climate chaos we are experiencing this year, and I fear it will only get worse until the world starts cutting greenhouse gas emissions.”