IANS

Highest weather-related damage recorded in 2017: Climate index

Katowice (Poland), Dec 4 (IANS) Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka and Dominica were hardest hit in 2017, the year with the highest weather-related losses ever recorded, the Global Climate Risk Index, published by Germanwatch, said on Tuesday.

India was 14th highest on the global vulnerability list over the 20-year period from 1998, a result of an average of 3,661 deaths a year.

In 2017, the hurricane season in the Caribbean Sea was particularly strong and left several islands destroyed, said the index — 14th in series — which was released on the sidelines of the UN climate negotiations, known as COP24, that saw governments and delegates from nearly 200 countries in this Polish city.

Furthermore, it said, there were some developing countries facing difficulties to recover as they were regularly hit by weather catastrophes.

Countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal or Vietnam were facing great challenges, according to the index.

All in all, 11,500 people died because of extreme weather events in 2017. Economic damages amounted to approximately $375 billion (calculated in purchasing-power parity or PPP). So it was the year with the highest weather-related losses ever recorded.

Massive rainfalls led to floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India, which affected more than 40 million people and killed 1,200 people.

“Recent storms with intensity levels never seen before have had disastrous impacts,” said David Eckstein of Germanwatch, lead author of the climate index.

In 2017, Puerto Rico and Dominica were hit by Maria, one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes on record. Puerto Rico ranks first and Dominica ranks third in the index of the most-impacted countries in 2017.

In many of the countries the most affected by natural disasters in the past year unusually extreme rainfall was followed by severe floods and landslides.

This is true also for Sri Lanka (ranked number two in 2017). Exceptionally heavy rain caused dramatic flooding that killed 200 people and left hundred thousands of people homeless.

“Poor countries are hardest hit. But extreme weather events also threaten the further development of upper middle income countries and can even overburden high income countries,” Eckstein said.

In the past 20 years from 1998, Puerto Rico, Honduras and Myanmar were impacted the strongest, according to the long-term index.

In this period, globally over 526,000 fatalities were directly linked to more than 11,500 extreme weather events.

The economic damages amounted to approximately $3.47 trillion.

The vulnerability of poorer countries became visible in the long-term index. Eight of the 10 countries most affected between 1998 and 2017 were developing countries with low or lower middle income per capita.

Industrialised and emerging economies were urged to do more to address climate impact which they themselves were feeling more clearly than ever before.

Effective climate protection as well as increasing resilience was in the self-interest of these countries, Eckstein said.

“For example, the US ranks 12 in the 2017 index, with 389 fatalities and $173.8 billion in losses this year caused by extreme weather conditions.”

This UN climate summit has to increase efforts to properly address loss and damage, Eckstein said.

Climate experts told IANS that the priority outcome at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) will be the finalization of the Paris rulebook — a Bible for transparent implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement — the first global treaty to reduce emissions by all rich and poor nations.

–IANS
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