Manila, Philippines – The Philippines is among the countries most affected by climate-related disasters, placing 20th last year among 181, according to a study released by an environmental policy think tank on Tuesday.
Despite the improvement of its ranking from No. 16 in 2016, the Philippines landed 11th overall with the most number of recorded deaths due to extreme weather events, according to the Global Climate Risk Index report by Germanwatch.
The report, launched on the sidelines of the United Nations climate talks in Katowice, underscored the need to properly deal with the losses and damage caused by climate change.
Losses and damage refer to the impact and effects of climate change, some of which are irreversible, such as loss of life and threats to biodiversity.
More intense storms
Data showed that 2017 had the highest number of weather-related losses ever recorded. The study said more intense storms repeatedly battered poor countries, giving them no time to recover.
“Urgent action is needed to step up mitigation and adaptation,” said Marie-Lena Hutfils of Germanwatch, one of the lead authors.
The index is based on the loss figures recorded in weather-related events, such as storms, floods, temperature extremes and mass movements. Researchers considered the number of deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, amount of losses in US dollars in purchasing power parity, and declines in gross domestic product as indicators.
The report said 11,500 people died in 2017 due to extreme weather events, while economic damage amounted to around $375 billion.
Puerto Rico, a US territory, was the most affected country last year after it was devastated by Hurricane “Maria” in September 2017, killing nearly 3,000 people. It was followed by Sri Lanka, which was battered by strong monsoon rains, leading to heavy landslides and floods that killed and displaced thousands.
Dominica was the third most affected country, after Maria also tore through the Caribbean island nation.
5 Asian countries
Five Asian countries were among the top 10—Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Thailand.
In the Philippines, Typhoon “Vinta” (international name: Tembin), which hit Mindanao at the end of 2017, killed around 250 people — more than the 65 fatalities in weather-induced calamities recorded the year before.
During a 20-year period beginning in 1998, the Philippines was the fifth country overall that was most vulnerable to weather events, averaging more than 870 deaths annually. The report said the country also lost $2.9 billion annually to climate-related events.
David Eckstein, another author of the report, said countries that are repeatedly hit by extreme weather events need “predictable and reliable financial support for dealing with climate-induced loss and damage.”
With the urgency to complete the rulebook for the Paris Agreement during the 24th Conference of the Parties, developing countries and civil society organizations are putting pressure on rich countries to not set aside the negotiations on loss and damage, which are often stalled in financial discussions.