Kuala Lumpur — Economic losses caused by climate-related disasters have soared by about two-and-a-half times over the past 20 years, the UN said on Wednesday. From 1998 to 2017, direct losses from all disasters totalled $2.9-trillion, of which 77% was due to extreme weather that was intensifying as the world warmed, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) said in a report. That compares with overall losses of $1.3-trillion from 1978 to 1997, 68% of that accounted for by climate and weather hazards, including storms, floods and droughts. "We can see that climate change is playing an increasingly important role in driving up disaster losses around the world, and that probably will be the case in the future as well," said Ricardo Mena, an official at the Geneva-based UNISDR. On Monday, climate scientists warned that if global average temperatures rise more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial times, it would lead to more suffering — especially among the world's poorest. The plane...

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