2023 Exposed A 'Global Postcode Lottery Stacked Against The Poor' Which Cannot Be Ignored

The climate crisis means some countries are paying a much larger price than others.
A mixed area of fields and Amazon rainforest is burning uncontrollably, while nearby residents attempt to contain the flames.
A mixed area of fields and Amazon rainforest is burning uncontrollably, while nearby residents attempt to contain the flames.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

A charity has analysed the cost of the most extreme climate disasters of 2023 has on each local resident – and found there’s a “global postcode lottery stacked against the poor”.

By looking at 20 extreme weather events from the last 12 months, Christian Aid found the cost per capita of each crisis can range hugely, depending on where the the incident happened – from more than £3,000 to just £7.

It showed some countries were paying a much larger bill because of factors like size, geography and income level.

After a year in which “almost no one on Earth” escaped global warming, it’s perhaps no surprise that the charity’s report ‘Counting the Cost 2023: A Year of Climate Breakdown’, found “more climate finance is desperately needed” around the world.

But, shortly after the UN’s climate summit COP28 was slammed for not doing more when it comes to climate finance and equity, here’s a look at just how much extreme weather cost us this year...

How much did 2023′s most expensive disasters cost per capita?

1. Wildfire in Hawaii/USA: $4,161 (£3,267)

2. Storm in Guam: $1,455 (£1,142)

3. Storm in Vanuatu: $947 (£743)

4. Storm in New Zealand: $468 (£367)

5. Flood in New Zealand: $371 (£291)

6. Flood in Italy: $164 (£129)

7. Flood in Libya: $105 (£82)

8. Flood in Peru: $66 (£52)

9. Drought in Spain: $50 (£39)

10. Storm in Myanmar: $41 (£32)

11. Flood in Chile: $39 (£31)

12. Flood in Haiti: $36 (£28)

13. Storm in Mexico: $35 (£27)

14. Wildfire in Chile: $30 (£23)

15. Storm in the USA: $25 (£20)

16. Food in China: $23 (£18)

17. Storm in Peru: $20 (£16)

18. Storm in Malawi: $17 (£13)

19. Storm in the USA: $16 (£13)

20. Flood in Peru: $9 (£7)

Why does the cost of these climate disasters range so much?

Christian Aid noted that developing countries struggle more in a crisis because buildings are less resilient and more people work in agriculture – an industry which is vulnerable to extreme weather changes.

But, as the charity spotted, large countries like the US, China and Mexico with populations exceeding 100 million, also had very costly natural disasters.

It added: “When we analyse the data across countries, we see that for richer countries with a large population it is easier to absorb the costs of climate disasters.”

Chief Executive of Christian Aid, Patrick Watt, said: “With 2023 the hottest year on record, the effects of climate change are more obvious than ever before.”

“While some disasters make the headlines, like the wildfires in Hawaii, in many cases devastating climate-related disasters pass unnoticed by the wider world,” he added. “When it comes to the climate crisis, there is a global postcode lottery that is stacked against the poor.

“In poorer countries, people are often less prepared for climate-related disasters and have fewer resources with which to bounce back.

“The upshot is that more people die, and recovery is slower and more unequal.

“There is a double injustice in the fact that the communities worst affected by global warming have contributed little to the problem.”

Utility Bidder also used Our World in Data and found so far in 2023, there has been a total of £75 billion in damages from natural disasters – a decline in costs compared to a whopping £178 billion for 2022, even though this year was the hottest on record.

Still, Christian Aid warns the impacts of climate change “will also become more frequent and intense, and therefore, despite more effective adaptive measures, we can expect more climate-related disasters in future years which affect more people around the world”.


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