Press Release | 04 December 2019

Climate Risks increasing worldwide - even for High-Income-Countries

Global Climate Risk Index: Japan and Germany hit hardest by heat waves and drought in 2018 / Philippines on rank 2 struck by tropical cyclones / Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti with highest weather-related losses 1999 - 2018 / Nearly 500,000 people killed as a result of more than 12,000 extreme weather events that caused 3.5 trillion US-Dollars in damages

Madrid (4th Dec. 2019). Severe heat waves, drought and flooding: Extreme weather events are massive challenges especially for poor and vulnerable countries - but also high-income countries are threatened more and more by climate risks. The Global Climate Risk Index, published today by the environmental think tank Germanwatch, shows that in 2018 industrialized countries like Japan and Germany were hit hardest by heat waves and severe drought. The Philippines were hit by the most powerful typhoon recorded worldwide in 2018.

Looking at the years from 1999 to 2018, poor countries had to face much higher impacts: Seven of the ten countries most affected in this period are developing countries with low or lower middle income per capita. Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti were most affected, according to this long-term index. In the past 20 years, globally nearly 500,000 fatalities were directly linked to more than 12,000 extreme weather events. The economic damages amounted to approximately US-Dollars 3.54 trillion (calculated in purchasing-power parity, PPP).

"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. 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."

Renato Redentor Constantino, Executive Director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (Philippines), adds: "Those who are least responsible for the problem, are the ones who are suffering the most. This is unacceptable."

Heat waves were one major cause of damage in 2018. Of the ten most affected countries last year, Germany, Japan and India were suffering from extended periods of heat. Recent science has confirmed the long established link between climate change and the frequency and severity of extreme heat. In Europe, for example, extreme heat spells are now up to 100 times more likely than a century ago. Furthermore, due to a lack of data, impacts of heatwaves on the African continent may be under-represented.

"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. 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 emphasizes. "The climate conference therefore needs to result in a decision to regularly determine the support needs of vulnerable countries for future damages. Furthermore COP25 has to decide upon necessary steps to generate reliable financial resources to meet these needs. Nevertheless, implementation of adaptation to climate change must be strengthened too."

About Global Climate Risk Index:
Germanwatch receives its data for annually calculating the Global Climate Risk Index from the NatCatSERVICE database of the reinsurance company Munich Re, as well as the socio-economic data of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Even though the evaluation of the rising damages and fatalities do not allow for simple conclusions on the influence of climate change on these events, it shows the increase of heavy disasters and does give a good impression of the affectedness of states and territories. Since 2006, Germanwatch has presented the index at the annual UN climate.