Bangladesh, Myanmar, Honduras worst-hit by extreme weather - report
COPENHAGEN (AlertNet) - Weather extremes have hit Bangladesh, Myanmar and Honduras the hardest over the past two decades and will likely have a bigger impact in the future as climate change intensifies storms, floods and heatwaves, a report said on Tuesday.
The three countries experienced the highest combination of deaths and economic losses from 1990 to 2008, according to a new climate risk index by Germanwatch, a non-governmental organisation promoting sustainable development.
Bangladesh has said it deserves at least 15 percent of any global fund created to help vulnerable developing nations adapt to climate change because stronger cyclones, a rise in sea levels and loss of fresh water from shrinking glaciers will affect millions of people in the low-lying country.
U.N. officials in Copenhagen, where negotiators are trying to hammer out a new global climate pact, say a "fast-start" climate fund should amount to at least $10 billion a year from 2010. But advocacy groups say between $50 billion and $160 billion will be needed each year to fund adaptation by 2030, with some projections reaching as high as $350 billion.
Deciding how to divide the funds is one of the next struggles facing international negotiators.
Saleemul Huq, an adaptation expert from the London-based Institute for Environment and Development, said any agreement would have to be a political bargaining among developing countries, rather than being based on any scientific data about vulnerability.
"It's a very, very difficult thing to come up with an objective vulnerability index," he said.
"What is more important? What criteria do you use?" Huq said. "You have to come up with a politically agreed vulnerability index. You can't leave it to scientists. It can't be done objectively."
The Germanwatch report acknowledges the problems of determining this kind of vulnerability. It says it takes into account only the direct effects of extreme weather but notes that heatwaves often lead to much stronger indirect effects through droughts and a fall in food production, which is often the case in Africa.
Moreover, while the study includes the number of deaths from extreme weather, it excludes people injured or otherwise harmed by it, largely because such claims can be exaggerated and are difficult to compare across different countries.
As a result, African nations come out lower in the vulnerability rankings than they should, said Christoph Bals of Germanwatch.
None of the 10 most vulnerable countries - which include, besides the top three, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Haiti, India, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and China - is in Africa, according to the index.
The report calls on negotiators in Copenhagen to boost financial and technical support for the most vulnerable countries and to provide funds over the next two years to implement the most urgently needed adaptation measures, particularly those aimed at preparing for natural disasters.
It also calls for the creation of an international insurance scheme for the countries prone to weather-related catastrophes, which would be financed mainly by rich countries blamed for causing climate change.
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