Extreme weather claimed nearly 480,000 lives in two decades

Published January 26, 2021
Pakistan among nations that were hit nearly constantly. — Reuters/File
Pakistan among nations that were hit nearly constantly. — Reuters/File

PARIS: Almost half a million people have died in natural disasters linked to extreme weather events in the last 20 years, according to a new assessment of the direct threat posed to humanity by climate change.

The mortality burden of climate-related catastrophes such as storms, flooding and heatwaves is overwhelmingly borne by developing countries.

At the start of the Climate Adaptation Summit, held virtually this year due to the pandemic, the think tank Germanwatch calculated that these disasters have cost the global economy a staggering $2.56 trillion this century.

An analysis of more than 11,000 extreme weather events showed nearly 480,000 fatalities since 2000, with Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti the worst hit countries, it said.

Pakistan among nations that were hit nearly constantly

Under the 2015 Paris climate deal, wealthier nations are supposed to provide $100 billion every year to help poorer states mitigate temperature rises and adapt to the changing climate.

But recent research suggests the true amount of funding available to developing countries for climate action is vastly lower.

Germanwatch’s Global Climate Index examined the impact of two decades of extreme weather events, particularly the 2019 storm season, which produced hurricanes and cyclones that devastated parts of the Caribbean, east Africa and south Asia.

“Poorer countries are hit hardest because they are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of a hazard and have lower coping capacity,” said co-author Vera Keunzel.

She said countries such as Haiti, the Philippines and Pakistan were hit nearly constantly by extreme weather events, leaving them no time to fully recover from one disaster before the next strikes.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2021

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