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Global Climate Risk Index 2021

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Brief Summary

The Global Climate Risk Index 2021 analyses and ranks to what extent countries and regions have been affected by impacts of climate related extreme weather events (storms, floods, heatwaves etc.). The most recent data available for 2019 and from 2000 to 2019 was taken into account.

The countries most affected in 2019 were Mozambique, Zimbabwe as well as the Bahamas. For the period from 2000 to 2019 Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti rank highest.

This year’s 16th edition of the Climate Risk Index clearly shows: Signs of escalating climate change can no longer be ignored – on any continent or in any region. Impacts from extreme-weather events hit the poorest countries hardest as these are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of a hazard, have a lower coping capacity and may need more time to rebuild and recover. The Global Climate Risk Index indicates a level of exposure and vulnerability to extreme weather events, which countries should understand as warnings in order to be prepared for more frequent and/or more severe events in the future. The storms in Japan show: Also high-income countries are feeling climate impacts more clearly than ever before. Effective climate change mitigation and adaptation to prevent or minimize potential damage is therefore in the self-interest of all countries worldwide.

Key Messages

  • Mozambique, Zimbabwe and the Bahamas were the countries most affected by the impacts of extreme weather events in 2019.

  • Between 2000 and 2019, Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti were the countries most affected by the impacts of extreme weather events.

  • Altogether, between 2000 and 2019 over 475 000 people lost their lives as a direct result of more than 11 000 extreme weather events globally and losses amounted to around US$ 2.56 trillion (in purchasing power parities).

  • Storms and their direct implications – precipitation, floods and landslides – were one major cause of losses and damages in 2019. Of the ten most affected countries in 2019, six were hit by tropical cyclones. Recent science suggests that the number of severe tropical cyclones will increase with every tenth of a degree in global average temperature rise.

  • In many cases, single exceptionally intense extreme weather events have such a strong impact that the countries and territories concerned also have a high ranking in the long-term index. Over the last few years, another category of countries has been gaining relevance: Countries like Haiti, the Philippines and Pakistan that are recurrently affected by catastrophes continuously rank among the most affected countries both in the long-term index and in the index for the respective year.

  • Developing countries are particularly affected by the impacts of climate change. They are hit hardest because they are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of a hazard but have lower coping capacity. Eight out of the ten countries most affected by the quantified impacts of extreme weather events in 2019 belong to the low- to lower-middle income category. Half of them are Least Developed Countries.

  • The global COVID-19 pandemic has reiterated the fact that both risks and vulnerability are systemic and interconnected. It is therefore important to strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable against different types of risk (climatic, geophysical, economic or health-related).

  • After the international climate policy process stalled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic expectations regarding progress on the long-term finance goal and adequate support for adaptation and L&D lie in 2021 and 2022. The process needs to deliver: a) a decision on how the need for support for vulnerable countries concerning future loss and damage is to be determined on an ongoing basis; b) the necessary steps to generate and make available financial resources to meet these needs; and c) strengthening the implementation of measures for adapting to climate change.