Extreme Weather Linked to 500,000 Deaths Over 20 Years

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By Eric J. Lyman

Nov. 8 — Extreme weather killed more than half a million people and caused more than $3 trillion in damages over two decades, while African countries were among those most affected by such weather last year, according to a report release Nov. 8 at the United Nations’ Marrakech Climate Change Conference.

According to the 32-page “ Global Climate Risk Index 2017” from the climate monitoring group Germanwatch, the African states of Mozambique and Malawi were two of the three countries most impacted by extreme weather last year. The Caribbean island nation of Dominica was the second most impacted, the report said, and it had the highest per-capita death toll, totaling 43.7 deaths from extreme weather per 100,000 inhabitants.

India, fourth on the list due to an array of separate extreme weather events, suffered the most total deaths from extreme weather, with more than 4,000, and its financial losses also topped the list. But because of its large population and size, in per-capita terms the losses where lighter.

Over a 20-year period—where individual events are less likely to skew results—Honduras, Myanmar, Haiti, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Bangladesh were most affected.

$3 Trillion Damage

The 12th edition of the report says that between 1996 and 2015 at least 528,000 people died from nearly 11,000 extreme weather events, which caused $3.08 trillion in damage.

The report called the link between specific weather events and climate change “still a frontier in science,” but noted that “many studies conclude that ‘the observed frequency, intensity, and duration of some extreme weather events have been changing as the climate system has warmed.’”

Climate Risk List

A high ranking on the list “indicates a level of exposure and vulnerability to extreme events, which countries should understand as warnings in order to be prepared for more frequent and/or more severe events in the future.” But it also cautioned that vulnerability still existed for countries not ranked.

Impacts are expected to rise: UN data expected costs for adaptation to extreme weather to increase by 200 to 300 percent by 2030, and by 400 to 500 percent by 2050.

The data in the report is used as a tool by negotiators to assess climate impacts in various parts of the world. It comes as delegates at the Nov. 7-18 talks start identifying revenue streams for “loss and damage” initiatives that would compensate poor countries for losses.

Plans for a “loss and damage” mechanism date back to the 2013 climate summit in Poland, and they were included as a stand-alone entity in Article 8 of last year’s Paris Agreement. But so far there is no blueprint for how to raise the $50 billion per year that Julie-Ann Richards, manager of international policy with the Climate Justice Program, said the initiative is expected to cost.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric J. Lyman in Marrakech at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at ghenderson@bna.com

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