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Natural disasters cost $280 billion in 2021: German firm

January 10, 2022

German reinsurance giant Munich Re has said that the climate crisis is behind the bulk of the costs. July's floods in western Europe were the second-costliest disaster of the year globally.

Flood damage in the village of Dernau
Flooding in Germany's Ahr valley destroyed homes and businesses and killed some 200 peopleImage: Boris Roessler/dpa/picture alliance

German reinsurance giant Munich Re published a report on Monday indicating that the results of natural disasters cost $280 billion (€247 billion) globally in 2021, highlighting a trend expected to continue upward as climate changes takes it toll.

"Some of the extreme weather events are of the kind that are likely to become more frequent or more severe as a result of climate change," said scientific advisors for the company. "Among these are severe storms in the [United States], including in the winter half-year, or heavy rain followed by floods in Europe."

Where were the costliest natural disasters?

The report noted a high proportion of those costs incurred in the United States, which was battered by hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes in 2021.

Hurricane Ida was the costliest disaster around the world, incurring losses of $65 billion.

It estimated that some $145 billion in damages was incurred across the country, adding that "both overall and insured losses were significantly higher than in the two previous years." In 2019, the total was $52 billion overall.

In Germany, the cost of devastating floods in July 2021 was estimated to be $40 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster in Germany to date. Rainfall reached a level not seen in the country in a century.

"The deluge triggered flash floods that swept away countless buildings. There was also severe damage to infrastructure, such as railway lines, roads and bridges. More than 220 people were killed," the firm noted.

Edited by: Richard Connor

Elizabeth Schumacher
Elizabeth Schumacher Elizabeth Schumacher reports on gender equity, immigration, poverty and education in Germany.