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25 Jan 2021, 12:37
Charlotte Nijhuis

Germany in top 20 countries most affected by climate change – NGO

Clean Energy Wire / Handelsblatt

Germany is among the 20 countries that have been most affected by climate change in the past two decades, according to the Global Climate Risk Index of the NGO Germanwatch. The index shows how severely countries worldwide are affected by extreme weather events such as floods, storms, heat waves and droughts, using the database of insurance company Munich Re, among others, as a basis. In the last twenty years, almost 480,000 people worldwide lost their lives due to more than 11,000 extreme weather events, with damages adding up to 2.56 trillion US dollars, the report shows. Poorest countries are generally hit hardest by extreme weather events as they have a lower coping capacity and need more time to rebuild and recover. However, the index shows that high-income countries, including Germany and Japan, are increasingly affected by climate change. In Germany, there have been more than 10,700 fatalities and damages of 4.27 billion dollars since 2000. This puts Germany in 18th place in the long-term index, mainly due to repeated heat waves, storms and floods in the Danube and Elbe rivers.

Climate change damages to business can be enormous, yet few companies report on the economic consequences of climate change, Handelsblatt writes. The German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is therefore calling on companies to report comprehensively and publicly on climate risks. "If companies do not take into account the consequences of climate change on their supply chains and plants, this can not only massively affect production and logistics, but also jeopardize investments and destroy company assets," UBA President Dirk Messner told the Handelsblatt newspaper. So far, there is no binding reporting obligation for companies, “everything has been done on a voluntary basis,” said Christpoh Bals, head of Germanwatch. Despite resistance, Bals argues there should be a uniform and binding reporting structure: "It must not be the case that a company can decide for itself whether and how it reports on which climate risks."

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