Countries hit by natural disasters have suffered $2.2 trillion in economic losses tied to climate-related storms and events, according to the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
From 1998 to 2017, global economic losses have risen 151% directly from climate-related disasters. The report comes after another recent report painted a dark picture of the world's future due to a 1.5-degree rise in temperature.
“People in low-income countries are six times more likely to lose all their worldly possessions or suffer an injury in a disaster than people in high-income countries,” said Professor Debarati Guha-Sapir, head of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters.
While the United States and China have lost the most in numeric monetary terms, other countries have been hit harder in terms of percentage of their average gross domestic product. Puerto Rico and Haiti have seen large economic losses when measured on this scale, while El Salvador, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Honduras ranked close behind.
“This report highlights the protection gap between rich and poor,” Professor Debarati Guha-Sapir, head of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters said. “Those who are suffering the most from climate change are those who are contributing least to greenhouse gas emissions.”
Puerto Rico is still undergoing a difficult recovery from Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island and killed around 3,000 people last year. The original official death toll was 64 people.
United States President Donald Trump, who notoriously threw paper towels at a crowd of people in Puerto Rico, denied that so many people had died when it was announced earlier this year.
Since taking office, Trump has rescinded environmental protection policies and removed the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.
The U.N. announced last week that drastic measures on an international scale would be needed to prevent catastrophic damage from rising global temperatures.