Philippines among countries worst hit by extreme weather in 2018

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
A house is seen next to a flooded rice field caused by Typhoon Kammuri in Ilagan on December 5, 2019
A resident collects wood for home use on a flooded rice field caused by Typhoon Kammuri in Ilagan on December 5, 2019.
AFP / Bill Visaya

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines—a country regularly exposed to tropical cyclones—placed second in the list of nations most affected by extreme weather events in 2018, according to a report of an environmental think tank.

The Philippines took the second place in the Global Climate Risk Index published by Bonn-based Germanwatch. The annual ranking measures the damage done by storms, floods and heatwaves to humans and economies.

Last year, the Philippines was hit by the Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut). The powerful typhoon tore across Northern Luzon in September 2018, triggering deadly landslides and displacing a quarter of the country’s population.

In 2017, the Philippines ranked 20th.

Japan was identified as the most weather-affected country in 2018. The East Asian nation was hit by torrential rains, an intense tropical cyclone and severe heatwave last year.

Germany, also affected by extreme heat, placed third. Completing the list of most affected countries by extreme weather in 2018 were Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Rwanda, Canada and Fiji.

Long-term climate-impacted countries

The 15th edition of the Global Climate Risk Index also identified the Philippines as among the nations most impacted by extraordinary catastrophes from 1999 to 2018. The country ranked fourth.

Puerto Rico once again topped the index, followed by Myanmar and Haiti. Other countries most affected by extreme weather events in the last two decades include Pakistan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand, Nepal and Dominica.

“Countries like Haiti, Philippines and Pakistan are repeatedly hit by extreme weather events and have no time to fully recover. 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,” David Eckstein, Germanwatch policy advisor on climate finance and investments, said. 

The annual index was presented in the 2019 UN Climate Conference—known as COP25—in Madrid, Spain. The crucial climate conference aims to finalize the rules for the 2015 Paris Agreement, which calls for blocking global warming at well below 2 degrees Celsius and 1.5 degrees Celsius, if possible.

‘Urgent action needed’

The Global Climate risk report should prompt the Philippine government to acknowledge that the Philippines is in a climate emergency and act with utmost urgency, environmental group Greenpeace said.

“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 toward the promises they made in Paris,” Yeb Saño, Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director, said.

Greenpeace is one of the organizations urging President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a climate emergency in the Philippines and hold the fossil fuel companies accountable for the harms they cause.

 “We need urgent action if we are to address the root causes of the climate crisis and achieve climate justice for our people,” Saño said.

He added: “This would only be possible if tackling climate change and its impact on the lives of Filipino people is given top priority by government and placed at the center of policy- and decision-making on local and national levels.”

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