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The financial cost of climate change is already huge and is likely to increase in future years, according to a new report, Natural Catastrophes 2002.

The report, released this week at the eighth conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-8) in New Delhi, India, estimates that natural disasters such as floods, mudslides and hurricanes will cost countries and communities US$70 billion this year alone.

The findings, produced by Munich Re, a UN-backed research firm, support developing nations' demands for more funds to adapt to the effects of climate change, according to Klaus Toepfer, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Toepfer calls on industrialised nations to "take action to help the poorer parts of the world adapt, to help them cope with the more unstable and more extreme environments likely in the coming decade".

"Adaptation is one of the key themes of the COP-8 here in Delhi," he says. "The richer parts of the world have a debt to pay as a result of the gases they have been pumping into the atmosphere, [and] it is high time that debt was re-paid."

© SciDev.Net 2002

Photo credit: Pan American Health Organisation