The majority of G20 countries have been hit by severe climate impacts in 2022 with costs running into the hundreds of millions, wrecking supply chains and hitting GDP. Only five G20 countries have submitted new climate plans to the UN in 2022.
Australia, Indonesia, Brazil, UK, India – none of which meet Climate Action Tracker’s criteria as “sufficient” for 1.5C. The extreme droughts in the US and Europe, the heatwaves in the UK and India, and the floods in Pakistan, are stark reminders that vulnerable populations exist in rich countries too and climate change-fueled weather events will not spare any country. Losses and damages will get worse with every extra day the world continues to emit greenhouse gases.
As G20 diplomats meet this week in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to discuss preparations for the leaders summit scheduled for 15-16 November, with the climate agenda slipping due to tensions over the Ukraine-Russia conflict and linked energy and food crises. The G20 sherpas met on Sep 27 in Indonesia for their 3rd session of talks ahead of November’s leader’s summit,
On this ocassion a report from India-based Climate Trends reveals – with the world;s largest economies facing multi-million dollar hits as storms, droughts, floods and heatwaves sweep the planet. Exceptional heat and droughts have broken records and wilted crops, flooding has led to thousands of deaths and destroyed infrastructure – 2022 has been one of the most ferocious years on record for climate impacts with few countries left unscathed.
But as this report underlines, G20 countries – responsible for over 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 75% of international trade – cannot afford to slow carbon cuts, with costs rising across the bloc. According to OECD, the net positive impact on G20 GDP of avoiding damages from climate change will be 4.7% by 2050. Conversely, damages by 2100 could reach over 8%, equivalent to twice the bloc’s economic losses from Covid-19 according to a 2021 study from CMCC.
Major global food-producing countries such as China, India and the US have been especially affected by prolonged periods of drought exacerbating the global food crises caused by the Russia-Ukraine war. The report details 14 extreme weather events from 2022 which illustrate starkly the risks climate scientists have warned of for years. From Australia to South Africa, these events demonstrate the impacts of climate change across continents, sparing no country in their ferocity.
Heatwave Impacts in 2022
● A 70 day heatwave in China saw temperatures reach over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) leading to the closure of hydropower plants and forcing businesses to
shut in the industrial city of Chongqing.
● Europe experienced its worst drought in at least 500 years with 17% of the continent under a state of alert. The drought caused wildfires, reduced crops and disrupted energy generation.
● The worst megadrought in 1,200 years hit the United States according to scientists. In September more than 61 million people were under active extreme heat
advisories, watches, and warnings.
Flooding impacts in 2022
● More than 1,500 people have died and 33 million people displaced following extreme flooding in Pakistan which submerged one third of the country in water.
● In Australia a new record was set for flood losses in the country at close to US3.5 billion, one of the costliest natural catastrophes ever in the country.
● In South Africa two days of exceptional rainfall in April on the coast of Eastern South Africa led to severe floods which displaced over 40,000, destroyed over 12,000 houses in the south-east part of South Africa and severely damaged roads, health centres and schools.
Aarti Khosla, Director, Climate Trends said “compounded by the rolling crises of energy and food due to the Ukraine war, this year many countries have come face to face with concurrent climate crises like never before. From a third of Pakistan flooded catastrophically, to large parts of north India reeling under a
maximum of 49 degree celsius in the spring, the climate crisis is unfolding each week. Heat stress whether in the US or in Europe or China, has intensified as a single largest threat across the world. Yet, even as impacts build on the one hand, there is less hope that the discussions around finance, not only for mitigation, and adaptation but also for loss and damage that cannot be avoided, will bear any fruit. It is clear that disenfranchised communities and people anywhere in the world will face disproportionate impacts. The attention on climate change must be able to address equity not only for the sake of climate justice but indeed for genuine climate action”.
Friederike Otto, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change & the Environment, Imperial College London said “the impacts of climate change are already evident across the world. And while countries in the Global South are more vulnerable to these impacts in general, this report clearly shows that rich countries will not be able to buy their way out of the crisis they contributed to create. The extreme droughts in the US and Europe, the heatwaves in the UK and India, and the floods in Pakistan, are stark reminders that vulnerable populations exist in rich countries too and climate change-fueled weather events will not spare any country. Losses and damages will get worse with every extra day the world continues to emit greenhouse gases”.
Kuki Soejachmoen, Indonesia Research Institute for Decarbonization (IRID) said “being an archipelagic country, Indonesia as G20 Presidency this year has also been affected heavily, especially coastal and marine-dependent communities and industries. This will not only affect their income, but eventually will also affect their food security. Real actions are needed and cannot be done independently regardless of the economic level of the G20 countries. Both sides of the climate coin, namely the cause and the impact, have to be addressed without jeopardising the right to development of any nation”.
Taylor Dimsdale, Director, Risk and Resilience, E3G said “the scary thing is that this long list of severe impacts is what we’re seeing at just over 1C of warming. But temperatures are going to keep rising, and there is a huge gap between risk and the response even in the wealthiest countries. The G20 isn’t prepared – but it’s not too late to avoid the worst case scenarios.”
Last week UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres told the United Nations General Assembly that the G20 countries must lead the way by boosting their national emissions reduction targets and limit the world’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Despite record droughts, fires and floods he said climate action was flatlining adding that if one-third of G20 countries was under water today, as it could be tomorrow, perhaps they would find it easier to agree on drastic cuts to emissions.
The writer of this article is Dr. Seema Javed, a known Environmentalist, Journalist and Communications Expert