PH 2nd most affected by disasters, extreme weather worldwide: climate index

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2019 02:25 PM | Updated as of Dec 06 2019 08:34 PM

MANILA - The Philippines was the second most affected country when it comes to weather-related losses in 2018, according to the recently released Global Climate Risk Index.

It is second only to Japan, which has been severely affected by heat waves and drought last year.

"The Climate Risk Index shows that climate change has disastrous impacts especially for poor countries, but also causes increasingly severe damages in industrialized countries like Japan or Germany," David Eckstein of Germanwatch said in a statement.

"Countries like Haiti, Philippines and Pakistan are repeatedly hit by extreme weather events and have no time to fully recover,” he added. 

“That underlines the importance of reliable financial support mechanisms for poor countries like these not only in climate change adaptation, but also for dealing with climate-induced loss and damage."

After Japan and the Philippines, rounding up the top 10 countries most affected in 2018 were Germany, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Rwanda, Canada and Fiji.

The report notes that in the past 20 years, there have been half a million fatalities directly linked to 12,000 extreme weather events worldwide. 

“The economic damages amounted to approximately $3.54 trillion (calculated in purchasing-power parity, PPP),” the report said.

Red Constantino, Executive Director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, said the situation in the Philippines and other vulnerable countries is “unacceptable” as “those who are least responsible for the problem (of climate change), are the ones who are suffering the most.”

While the Philippines was battered by strong typhoons, countries like Germany, Japan and India were subjected to “extended periods of heat,” which reflects “the long established link between climate change and the frequency and severity of extreme heat.”

Studies also showed links between climate change and extreme weather.

Currently, world leaders are in Madrid, Spain for the annual climate change negotiations. In the past months, there has been stronger clamor for more drastic actions to curb carbon emissions. 

Vulnerable countries like the Philippines have also called on industrialized countries to financially support their climate adaptation and mitigation measures.

“We have been in a state of climate emergency for decades now, and the situation is not getting any better--and it will not get any better unless the world leaders gathering for the COP25 in Madrid show concrete commitments towards the promises they made in Paris,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Yeb Saño, who was a former climate change negotiator for the Philippines.

Saño, who is in Madrid to observe the negotiations, said the Philippine government should officially declare a climate emergency and to “hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the harms to Filipino people brought on by their activities that are driving the climate crisis.”

He also called for the “country’s rapid and just transition to a climate-friendly development,” which he said should be done through renewable energy solutions and the phase-out of coal-fired power plants.