A report ranking Canada among the ten countries most impacted by severe weather events cites the 2018 wildfire season with events like the Telegraph Creek fire as one of the reasons. (BC Wildfire Service)

Canada ranks among countries most impacted by severe weather

Canada has climbed from the 42nd spot to ninth on the Climate Risk Index

  • Dec. 12, 2019 12:00 a.m.

A survey ranks Canada among the countries most impacted by weather-related loss events.

Canada ranks ninth on the newest Climate Risk Index (CRI) released by Germanwatch, a non-profit, non-governmental organization. It says the CRI “indicates a level of exposure and vulnerability to extreme events” which countries should understand as warnings to prepare themselves for more frequent, more severe events in the future.

The survey draws on the worldwide data collection and analysis provided by Munich Re, the world’s leading re-insurance company, in combining demographics, economics, and meteorology.

The ranking show Japan, the Philippines, and Germany as the most affected countries in 2018, followed by Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Rwanda, with Canada coming in ahead of Fiji.

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According to Germanwatch, extreme weather events caused 103 deaths in Canada, shrinking Gross Domestic Product by 0.12 per cent. Canada ranked in 42nd place in 2017 with an average ranking of 100th for the period between 1998 and 2017.

Canada, in other words, has been moving up the index, and the analysis section concerning Canada shows why in pointing to the extreme weather events that defined Canada and British Columbia in 2018.

The report notes that Canada started 2018 with extremely cold temperatures of -48.2 C in the east, the lowest in 100 years. It then notes that flooding displaced some 4,000 people in southern British Columbia after record high temperatures in April melted heavy snowpacks, causing rivers to overflow.

The same region also suffered what the report describes as “the worst wildfire season on record” in forcing the evacuation of 16,000 people. The report also notes that more than 2,100 wildfires burned 1.35 million hectares, causing some of the worst air quality in the world. The report also cites the “severe heatwave” in July 2018 that killed 93 people in Quebec due to heat-related complications.

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As seven out of 10 entries are developing states, the list confirms what many experts consider one of the unjust aspects of climate change: poorer nations, many of them island nations, might have contributed little to climate change, but are nonetheless disproportionately suffering its effects.

This said, the remaining trio of countries are members of the G7 with the third, fourth and 10th largest global economy respectively as measured by GDP. In that sense, the list increasingly shows that developed states mainly responsible for climate change have a lot more to lose, as cynical as that sounds.


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