Study: Philippines Top Casualty of Extreme Weather in 2013

Lima, Peru (Reuters / Dec. 3, 2014) – The Philippines, Cambodia, and India were the countries hardest hit by extreme weather events in 2013, according to a study unveiled on Tuesday (December 2) at UN talks in Lima on a global deal to limit climate change.

The report by Germanwatch, a think-tank partly funded by the German government, said the Philippines suffered most because 6,300 people died when Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) struck a year ago and caused $13 billion in damage.

A new storm named Hagupit is now threatening the country.

Overall, the study found that more than 530,000 people had died worldwide from 15,000 extreme weather events in the last two decades, including floods, mudslides, and droughts, with economic losses of $2.17 trillion.

The study is based on death tolls from extreme weather, deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, absolute economic losses, and losses as a percentage of gross domestic products.

“In the Philippines the Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest tropical storm to ever make landfall in the country and, as I said, framed the climate talks last year,” said author of the Global Climate Risk Index, Sonke Kreft, at the conference in which the results were presented.

“Cambodia had severe floodings, and in India we had also cyclones hitting the country – the second largest on record,” Kreft added, referring to Typhoon Phailin, which wrecked $4 billion of Indian crops.

The United Nations’ panel of climate scientists has said that the impacts of global warming can be found on every continent, with rising temperatures causing more heatwaves, downpours, and rising sea levels.

“It is not only developing countries that are affected,” Kreft said, “Developed countries are not in our top ten this year, but the United Kingdom is quite high up, ranking eleven, given the economic damage sustained.”

According to Heherson Alvarez, a former senator and a delegate from the Philippines, developing countries remain the victims of the story, suffering extreme weather conditions in a complex number of ways. He indicated developed nations could learn from countries like his.

“In the Philippines we have learned much. We know how to cooperate with international agencies, we know that the depth of damage is not just the tens of thousands and the rebuilding of homes, but the inner damage in the hearts and minds of children who may never be able to recover, of people who are psychologically dislocated. I hope these components of the damage to all the other victims will be incorporated.”

Honduras was removed from 2013 list, but as Deputy Environment Minister for the country Carlos Alberto Pineda Fasquelle told the conference, the country’s position in relation to such risk remains precarious.

“It pleases us to know that in 2013 we made it off this list, but only God knows if in 2014 and 2015 we will be part of it once again,” said Fasquelle.

“So here we are, trying to have an influence, to negotiate to achieve funds from Fondo Verde and to continue progressing in our aim to achieve sustainable production, as our country’s contribution to the global phenomenon of climate change,” Fasquelle added.

Delegates from almost 200 nations are meeting in Lima from December 1-12 to work on a deal, due to be agreed in Paris in late 2015, to combat climate change. -

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