Australia was among every populated continent in 2019 hit by climate change-related extreme weather events, harming and displacing millions of people and costing billions, a new report by Christian Aid says.
A report from the charity identifies 15 of the most destructive droughts, floods, fires, typhoons and cyclones of the past year, which each caused damage of more than a $US1 billion ($A1.4 billion).
All of the disasters identified in the Counting the Cost report, including floods and bushfires in Australia, are linked with human-caused climate change, Christian Aid said on Thursday.
In some cases, studies have shown that climate change made them more likely or stronger, such as Cyclone Idai in Africa and floods in India and the US.
In others, the event was the result of shifts in weather patterns, such as higher temperatures and reduced rainfall making wildfires more likely, or warmer water temperatures that "supercharged" tropical storms.
"If anything, 2019 saw even more profound extreme weather events around the world than last year, including wildfires from the Amazon through to the Arctic, devastating out-of-season, simultaneous wildfires in California and Australia, winter heatwaves and devastating superstorms," Professor Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Centre at Pennsylvania State University, said.
"With each day now we are seemingly reminded of the cost of climate inaction in the form of ever-threatening climate change-spiked weather extremes."
Of the 15 events identified in the report, seven cost more than $US10 billion each, the charity said, and warned that the figures were likely to be an underestimate as in some cases they only include insured losses.
The most financially costly disasters identified by the report were wildfires in California, which caused $US25 billion in damage, followed by Typhoon Hagibis in Japan, which cost $US15 billion.
The next most financially costly were floods in the American Midwest in March ($US12.5 billion) and in China between June and August ($US12 billion, the report said.
The events with the greatest loss of life were floods in northern India which killed 1,900 and Cyclone Idai, which killed 1,300, Christian Aid said.
Cyclone Fani in India and Bangladesh in May displaced 3.4 million people.
The UK did not escape the weather extremes, with Storm Eberhard hitting the country along with Belgium and the Netherlands in early March, before moving east to affect Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Ukraine.
The storm caused damage across Europe costing $US1 billion to $US1.7 billion.
Analysis suggests severe wind storms will be increasingly likely to hit Europe as temperatures rise, and in the UK insurance claims from these kind of storms could increase by 50 per cent in some parts of the country.
The UK is set to host key UN climate talks in Glasgow in November next year.
At the talks, countries will be under pressure to increase their ambition in cutting greenhouse gases, to meet promises under the international Paris Agreement on climate change to curb temperature rises to 1.5C or 2C to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.
Dr Kat Kramer, Christian Aid's global climate lead and report co-author, said 2020 will be a "huge year" for how the world responds to the growing climate crisis.
"We have the biggest summit since the Paris Agreement was signed five years ago taking place in Glasgow, where countries must commit to further cut their emissions in line with the 1.5C temperature limit, and boost funding for poor countries suffering from the kind of impacts seen in this report.
"Last year, emissions continued to rise, so it's essential that nations prepare these new and enhanced pledges for action to the Paris Agreement as soon as possible."
THE 15 CLIMATE-RELATED EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS IDENTIFIED IN THE REPORT ARE:
- January: Argentina and Uruguay, floods - $US2.5 billion, five killed;
- January-February: Australia, floods - $US1.9 billion, three killed;
- March: Europe, Storm Eberhard - $US1-1.7 billion, four killed;
- March: Southern Africa, Cyclone Idai - $US2 billion, 1,300 killed;
- March-June: Midwest and South US, floods - $US12.5 billion, three killed;
- March-April: Iran, floods - $US8.3 billion, 78 killed;
- May: India and Bangladesh, Cyclone Fani - $US8.1 billion, 89 killed;
- June-August: China, floods - $US12 billion, 300 killed;
- June-October: North India, floods - $US10 billion, 1,900 killed;
- August: China, Typhoon Lekima - $US10 billion, 101 killed;
- September-October: Japan, Typhoon Faxai $US5-$US9 billion, three killed) and Hagibis ($US15 billion, 98 killed);
- September: North America, Hurricane Dorian - $US11.4 billion, 673 killed;
- September: Spain, floods - $US2.4 billion, seven killed;
- September: Texas, US, Tropical Storm Imelda, $US8 billion, five killed.
- October-November: California, US, fires - $US25 billion, three killed.
Source: Christian Aid.
Australian Associated Press