ASIA suffered its hottest year on record in 2020, the UN said on October 26 ahead of the COP26 summit, with extreme weather taking a heavy toll on the continent’s development.

Asia’s warmest year on record saw the mean temperature 1.39 degrees Celsius above the 1981-2010 average.

In its annual “State of the Climate in Asia” report, the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said every part of the region had been affected.

“Extreme weather and climate change impacts across Asia in 2020 caused the loss of life of thousands of people, displaced millions of others and cost hundreds of billions of dollars, while wreaking a heavy toll on infrastructure and ecosystems,” the WMO said. “Sustainable development is threatened, with food and water insecurity, health risks and environmental degradation on the rise.”

In 2020 floods and storms affected approximately 50 million people in Asia, resulting in more than 5,000 fatalities.

Home to a quarter of Asia’s mangroves, Bangladesh has seen the population drop by 19 per cent from 1992 to 2019.

The report also laid bare the total annual average losses due to climate-related hazards. China suffered an estimated $238 billion, followed by India at $87 billion, Japan with $83 billion and South Korea on $24 billion.

But when the size of the economy is considered, the average annual losses are expected to be as high as 7.9 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) for Tajikistan, 5.9 per cent for Cambodia and 5.8 per cent for Laos.