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Climate risks increase worldwide, even for rich countries: report

12-28 Xinhua

MADRID, Dec. 4 -- Extreme weather events are massive challenges especially for poor and vulnerable countries but high-income ones are also threatened more and more, according to a report by a German environmental think-tank.

The Global Climate Risk Index, which was published by Germanwatch on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid (COP25), showed that in 2018, industrialized countries like Japan and Germany, ranking top and the third respectively, were hit hardest by heatwaves and severe drought.

Based on database of the reinsurance company Munich Re, as well as the socio-economic data of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the index found that Germany was in the third position as its hottest-ever April-July period resulted in the deaths of over 1,200 people and widespread drought in 2018.

The long-term index also noted that from 1999 to 2018, poor countries had to face much higher impacts: Seven of the ten countries most affected in this period are developing countries with low or lower middle income per capita. Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti were most affected.

Recent science has confirmed the long-established link between climate change and the frequency and severity of extreme heat. In Europe, for example, extreme heat spells are now up to 100 times more likely than a century ago. Furthermore, due to a lack of data, impacts of heatwaves on the African continent may be under-represented, according to the index.

In the past two decades, globally nearly 500,000 fatalities were directly linked to more than 12,000 extreme weather events, with the economic damages amounting to about 3.54 trillion U.S. dollars.

"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," said David Eckstein of Germanwatch, who also called for more financial support for poor countries that suffer extreme weather events.

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