A new UN report to mark the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction was released on 13 October 2020. It confirmed that the doubling of natural disasters in the past 20 years is largely attributable to climate change. The report by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) stated that 7,348 major disaster events occurred between 2000 and 2019, claimed 1.23 million lives, impacted 4.2 billion people, and resulted in approximately US$2.97 trillion in global economic losses.
This is almost double of the disaster events in the period between 1980 and 1999 when 4,212 disasters occurred worldwide, claiming approximately 1.19 million lives, affecting 3.25 billion people, and costing approximately US$1.63 trillion in economic losses. According to the study, this difference is explained by a rise in climate-related disasters including extreme weather events. From 1980 to 1999, there were 3,656 climate-related events compared to 6,681 in the period 2000–2019.
There has been a doubling of major floods, from 1,389 to 3,254, and storms, from 1,457 to 2,034, in the last 20 years. There has also been a rise in geophysical events including earthquakes and tsunamis. The report has found major increases in other disaster categories such as drought, wildfires and extreme temperature events.
The report derived its data from the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) maintained by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), which records disasters that have killed 10 or more people, affected 100 or more people, or resulted in a declared state of emergency or a call for international assistance.
The report points out that a global temperature increase of 3 °C is estimated to increase the frequency of high-impact natural disaster events, and that shifting rainfall patterns pose a risk to the 70 per cent of global agriculture that is rain-fed and the 1.3 billion people dependent on it.