TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japan, the Philippines, and Germany are the three countries that suffered the most from extreme weather events in 2018, according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2020 published by non-profit organization Germanwatch on Dec. 4.
The index observed that while developing countries are still impacted the most by extreme weather in general, highly developed countries are more affected than ever before.
Japan topped the chart due to the extreme weather that hit the island nation last year. Heavy rainfalls in July of 2018 caused flash floods and mudslides. This was followed by extended heatwaves and the disastrous Typhoon Jebi, which resulted in the evacuation of more than 1 million people and over US$12 billion in economic loss.
Germany, which was ranked No. 3 on the index, suffered from a prolonged drought last summer, causing as much as US$3.54 billion in agricultural losses. Meanwhile, heatwaves led to more than 1,000 deaths in the country.
The index also listed the countries affected the most by extreme weather between 1999 and 2018. low- to-middle-income countries occupy the top 10 slots owing to a lower coping capacity and insufficient infrastructure to recover from the aftermath of disasters.
Puerto Rico, however, was the most affected in the past 20 years, even with its advanced economy, because of the extraordinary natural disasters the country has encountered, such as Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Scientists have substantiated the link between extreme weather and human-caused climate change. The heatwaves in the northern hemisphere in 2018 could occur every year if global temperatures surpass the threshold of 2 Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The report said that frequent heatwaves place an extra burden on people's health, especially working classes that spend much of the time in an environment without air conditioning. In addition, Wildfires and droughts exacerbated by extended periods of high temperatures increase tree mortality and hinder growth, degrading their ability to function as carbon sinks.
Taiwan ranked No. 75 on the latest Global Climate Risk Index. In August of 2018, a tropical depression inundated the southern party of the island, with over 300 millimeters of rain falling in just 12 hours, flooding 248 homes and leading to five injuries.