According to a new report by the development organization Germanwatch, the Bundesrepublik was last year one of the top three countries most severely affected by extreme weather.
Due to the heat waves, storms and droughts of 2018, Germany was ranked third behind Japan and the Philippines in the Global Climate Risk Index 2020. Germanwatch presented their findings on Wednesday at the World Climate Conference in Madrid.
It’s the first time Germany has climbed to such a high position in the ranking. In the long-term index, which evaluates the years 1999 to 2018, Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti were the countries worst affected by storms, floods and droughts.
Heatwaves were one major cause of damage in 2018. Of the 10 most affected countries in 2018, Germany, Japan and India suffered from extended periods of heat.
“The Climate Risk Index shows that climate change has disastrous impacts especially for poor countries, but also causes increasingly severe damage in industrialized countries like Japan or Germany,” said David Eckstein of Germanwatch.
“Countries like Haiti, Philippines and Pakistan are repeatedly hit by extreme weather events and have no time to fully recover. That underlines the importance of reliable financial support mechanisms for poor countries like these not only in climate change adaptation, but also for dealing with climate-induced loss and damage.”
As The Local has reported, the effects of global warming are becoming increasingly noticeable in Germany. The average air temperature in Germany increased by 1.5C between 1881 and 2018, according to the government's Climate Monitoring Report, published recently. In the past five years alone, the temperature has gone up by 0.3C.
The annually published Climate Risk Index is based on data from insurer Munich Re and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
It analyzes to what extent countries and regions have been affected by impacts of weather-related loss events (storms, floods, heat waves etc.). The most recent data available – for 2018, and from 1999 to 2018 – were taken into account.
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Global warming makes extreme weather events such as droughts and storms more frequent and stronger, the study says. In the past 20 years, altogether, about 495 000 people died as a direct result of more than 12,000 extreme weather events globally and losses between 1999 and 2018 amounted to around $3.54 trillion (in purchasing power parities).
In the long-term index, seven of the 10 most severely affected countries are poorer countries. How the devastating damage in these countries can be managed financially is one of the topics at this year's UN Climate Conference in Madrid, which began on Monday and lasts two weeks.
The below map shows the countries most affected last year.
“In countries like Haiti, the Philippines and Pakistan, we see such recurrent extreme weather conditions at such short intervals that these countries have little opportunity to recover from weather disasters,” said Vera Künzel, one of the authors.
Poor countries need help not only to adapt to climate change, but also to deal with unavoidable damage and losses, Künzel added.
“The climate summit needs to address the so far lacking of additional climate finance to help poorest people and countries in dealing with losses and damages,” Laura Schäfer of Germanwatch added.
“They are hit hardest by climate change impacts because they lack the financial and technical capacity to deal with the losses and damages.
“The climate conference therefore needs to result in a decision to regularly determine the support needs of vulnerable countries for future damages.”