Press Release | 12 December 2007

Germanwatch presents Global Climate Risk Index

Climate Summit in Bali held in the region most affected by weather catastrophes in 2006


Bali, 11 December 2007. The environment and development organisation Germanwatch and the Munich Reinsurance today presented the Climate Risk Index (CRI) at the UN climate negotiations in Bali. The Index shows that less developed countries often suffer far more from storms, floods and weather extremes than industrialized nations. In 2006, Asia was particularly affected. Germanwatch views the results of the Index as further evidence that a central task of the climate summit in Bali is to agree on a negotiation mandate that limits the risks of climate change, and at the same time assissts those countries particularly affected with adapting to negative impacts.

Sven Harmeling, senior advisor for climate and development at Germanwatch and author of the study: "The most affected Countries in 2006 were the Philippines, the Democratic Republic of Korea and the host of the ongoing climate summit, Indonesia. In both the Philippines and in Indonesia there were almost 1300 deaths and damages ranging in the billions due to storms and floods. While the absolute numbers are far lower than those in the US or China, they alone are not sufficient to judge the extent to which a country was affected, according to Harmeling. "That's why Germanwatch's Climate Risk Index also includes relative indicators. In Korea there were four times as many deaths per 100.000 inhabitants due to weather extremes than there were in Indonesia", Harmeling explains. In average over the last 10 years, Honduras, Nicaragua and Bangladesh have experienced the greatest impacts.

Peter Hoeppe, head of the Geo-Risk research department of Munich Reinsurance, on whose world renowned weather extremes database the Index is based: "The events of one year do not allow the direct conclusion of a causal relation with climate change. However since 1980 the incidence of natural disasters through wind storms has doubled, while the frequency of floods and other extreme weather events such as heat waves and droughts has even quadrupled." Hoeppe continues: "This clearly shows an increasing danger. The frequency of geophysical catastrophes on the other hand has only risen by a factor of 1.5. While this increase is likely to be due to socio economic factors, the far stronger rise in weather related catastrophes is shown with increasing certainty to be to a good part due to climate change", Peter Hoeppe explains. "Especially countries that have been hit hard by weather extremes in the past should take this as a prompt to pay greater attention to preventing such dangers", Hoeppe advises and adds: "The industrialized nations, as the main causers of climate change, are in the responsibility to support such processes."

Thomas Loster, managing director of the Munich Re foundation, emphasises that people in developing countries are most affected by weather catastrophes. Long-term studies reveal that about 80 per cent of the victims come from poor countries. "The ten natural disasters with the highest number of victims in 2007 occurred in poor countries", says Loster. "There was only one among them that was not due to weather events. Climate change entails more frequent weather extremes and poor people are particularly vulnerable. This will increase the challenges that we face in preventing disasters and in development cooperation," he adds.

Klaus Milke, board chairman of Germanwatch, underscores the meaning of such projects for international climate politics. "Effective pre-emptive measures against weather extremes are of central significance for the adaptation to the consequences of climate change, which is high on the agenda of the climate conference in Bali", said Milke. "Governments should support the proposal of the Small Island Develoing States (SIDS) and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) made here in Bali to launch an initiative for early warning systems on floods and droughts. And its worth it, as many studies show: one dollar invested can save multiples of itself in what would have otherwise been required for emergency aid", Milke emphasized. "Bali also has to be about negotiations on considering binding payments to support those particularly affected by climate change. These payments are to finance adaptation measures for local populations, to set incentives for adaptation and insurance systems for the particularly affected."

For interviews and further requests please contact:

  • Sven Harmeling, Germanwatch (in Bali): 0062-8170819357,
  • Klaus Milke, Germanwatch (in Bali): 0062-87861129827,
  • Peter Höppe, Munich Re: 0049-16097819215,
  • Thomas Loster, Munich Re Foundation: 0049-1704596932,