Asian countries are facing the most damaging impacts of rising temperatures, factors that are expected to lead to a large number of deaths and massive economic losses, according to a new climate change index.
On a global scale, Puerto Rico is at the top of the chart and five Asian countries figure among the top ten worst-affected countries due to extreme weather events. China is ranked 31st, a significant improvement from the last year’s ranking of 12th.
The Global Climate Risk Index 2019 released on Wednesday at the ongoing climate change summit COP 24 in the Polish city of Katowice, ranked countries on the basis of the number of deaths and financial loss expected due to extreme weather events.
Globally, more than 526,000 people died as a direct result of more than 11,500 extreme weather events in 2017, and the economic losses due to climate change between 1998 and 2017 amounted to around 3.47 trillion U.S. dollars, according to the report.
Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka, and Dominica suffered the worst in 2017. Among South Asian countries, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Vietnam ranked 2nd, 4th and 6th respectively, Bangladesh ranked 9th and Thailand 10th.
Madagascar and Sierra Leone ranked 7th and 8th respectively as, “Recent storms with intensity levels never seen before have had disastrous impacts,” David Eckstein of Germanwatch, lead author of the index, said.
“In 2017, Puerto Rico and Dominica were hit by ‘Maria,’ one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes on record.”
Climate-induced weather events in China killed 989 people in 2016. The number came down to 396 in 2017, the Index reported.
The data also revealed eight of the ten countries most affected between 1998 and 2017 are developing countries with low or lower-middle income per capita. Last May, heavy rainfall in Sri Lanka killed 200 people and displaced more than 600,000.
Rainfalls triggered devastating floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India, affecting more than 40 million people. Around 1,200 people lost their lives, and millions were displaced.
“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. He added that countries like Haiti, The Philippines, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are repeatedly hit by extreme weather events and have no time to recover fully.
According to the index, Bangladesh suffered an economic loss of 2.8 billion U.S. dollars, India 13.7 billion dollars, Pakistan 384 million dollars, Sri Lanka three billion dollars, and China 30 billion dollars.