Extreme heatwaves, droughts and floods like we’ve never seen before — these are some of the most common extreme weather that will take place due to the climate crisis, according to a report presented at COP25.
These will represent massive challenges for poor countries but also for high-income ones across the world, the report claims, stressing the importance of immediate action.
The Global Climate Risk Index, a report by the think tank Germanwatch, showed that industrialized countries such as Japan and Germany were among the most affected ones last year because of heatwaves and droughts. The Philippines also ranked high due to record typhoons.
The report was presented at the COP25 climate summit in Madrid, Spain, where countries are trying to finish the rulebook to implement the Paris Agreement – signed in 2015 to limit the temperature growth to 2 degrees Celcius.
When looking at longer-term, poor countries faced most of the impacts. From 1999 to 2018, seven of the ten most affected countries are developing ones with low or lower middle income per capita. Puerto Rico, Myanmar, and Haiti were the most affected ones.
The report also showed that in the past 20 years almost 500,000 deaths were directly linked to more than 12,000 extreme weather events that happened across the globe. The economic damages amounted to approximately US$3.54 trillion, calculated in purchasing-power parity.
“The Climate Risk Index shows that climate change has disastrous impacts especially for poor countries, but also causes increasingly severe damages in industrialized countries like Japan or Germany”, says David Eckstein of Germanwatch. “Countries like Haiti, Philippines and Pakistan are repeatedly hit by extreme weather events and have no time to fully recover.”
The most significant cause of damage last year was heatwaves, according to the report. Among the most affected countries, Germany, Japan and India suffered from long periods of extreme heat. This is in line with recent findings that showed a link between climate change and the frequency and severity of heatwaves.
The report also showed that single exceptional disasters have had a strong impact on many countries, such as Haiti, Philippines, and Pakistan, recurrently affected by catastrophes and usually present on the ranking of those most affected.
“The climate summit needs to address the so far lacking of additional climate finance to help the poorest people and countries in dealing with losses and damages. They are hit hardest by climate change impacts because they lack the financial and technical capacity to deal with the losses and damages,” Laura Schaefer of Germanwatch said.