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Global Climate Risk Index 2020

  • 05 Dec 2019
  • 3 min read

Why in News

The international environmental think tank ‘Germanwatch’ has recently released the Global Climate Risk Index 2019.

  • The index analyses the extent to which countries and regions have been affected by the impacts of weather-related loss events (storms, floods, heat waves etc.).

Key Findings

  • Worst affected in 2018: Japan, Philippines and Germany
  • Worst affected between 1999-2018 (long-term index): Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti
  • Deaths and financial loss between 1999-2018: Altogether, about 5 lakh people died as a direct result of more than 12 000 extreme weather events globally. Losses amounted to around US$ 3.54 trillion (in purchasing power parities).
  • Poor countries had to face much higher impacts: Of the ten most affected countries and territories in the period 1999-2018, seven were developing countries in the low income or lower-middle income country group, two were classified as upper-middle income countries (Thailand and Dominica) and one was an advanced economy generating high income (Puerto Rico).
  • Link between climate change and the frequency & severity of extreme heat: Heatwaves were one major cause of damage in 2018.
    • Of the ten most affected countries in 2018, Germany, Japan and India were suffering from extended periods of heat.
    • Across Europe, extreme heat spells are now up to 100 times more likely than a century ago.
    • Impact of heatwaves on African countries may be under-represented due to a lack of data.


  • India, which suffered water shortages, crop failures and worst flooding, holds the 5th position. It has fallen from its 14th rank of countries hit most by climate change-induced weather phenomena in 2017.
    • India has also recorded the highest number of fatalities due to climate change and the second-highest monetary losses from its impact in 2018.


  • The 2019 Climate Summit in Madrid needs to address the lack of additional climate finance to help the poorest people and countries to address loss and damage.
    • These countries are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of a hazard but have lower coping capacity.
  • The climate summit needs to result in:
    • a decision on how the need for support for vulnerable countries concerning future loss and damage is to be determined on an ongoing basis
    • the necessary steps to generate and make available financial resources to meet these needs
    • strengthening the implementation of measures for adapting to climate change


Germanwatch, based in Bonn and Berlin (Germany), is an independent development and environmental organisation which works for sustainable global development.

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