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article imageGlobal flood damage set to reach $1 trillion by 2015

By Tim Sandle     Aug 23, 2013 in Environment
Flood damages for the world's 136 largest coastal cities could cost $1 trillion annually by 2050 if protective measures are not put into place.
This assessment has come from a team of economists and scientists, who considered the impacts of factors such as sea level rise and economic and population growth. The final assessment, Time magazine notes, is that floods will become increasingly costly unless measures are put in place. The estimated annual figure by 2050 is $1 trillion, which compares with the annual flood losses for the coastal cities in 2005, which came to $6 billion.
The study was part of an ongoing project by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to explore the policy implications of flood risks due to climate change and economic development.
In terms of specific areas, five U.S. urban areas — Miami, New York-Newark, New Orleans, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and Boston — rank among the 20 cities with highest projected flood losses in 2050. However, at nearly $12 billion annually, Guangzhou, China ranks the highest and most at risk area in the world. This is followed by Guayaquil, Ecuador; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Most of the cities in the top 20 are in low-lying river deltas.
Commenting on the study, Stephane Hallegate Senior Economist, World Bank said: "Coastal defenses reduce the risk of floods today, but they also attract population and assets in protected areas and thus put them at risk in case of the defense fails, or if an event overwhelms it. If they are not upgraded regularly and proactively as risk increases with climate change and subsidence, defenses can magnify – not reduce – the vulnerability of some cities."
The consortium of scientists have written up their findings in the journal Nature Climate Change. The group recommends that ambitious protective measures and disaster relief planning are considered by the world's governments.
More about Floods, Water, Sea levels, World bank, OECD
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