“The effects of climate change are dangerous and they are accelerating”, stressed UN Secretary-General António Guterres to a gathering of students, business leaders and academics at New York University Stern School of Business to underscore the need to increase efforts in the fight against global warming. Although the effects of climate change are already visible throughout the world, it is still possible to act and build greater resilience to the crisis.
On November 2016, GermanWatch published the Global Climate Risk Index, analyzing to what extent countries have been affected by the impacts of weather-related loss events. The index divides results between the most affected countries in 2015, and those most affected in the period 1996-2015. According to the index, the most affected country in 2015 was Mozambique. TheDominican Republic is ranked 80th. Over the 20 last years, on the list of the most climate vulnerable countries, Myanmar and Haiti have been ranked at the top, while the Dominican Republic has been ranked 11th.
Unsurprisingly, the first conclusion we draw from this index is that less developed countries are generally more affected than industrialized ones. Precipitations, floods and landslides were the major causes of damage in 2015. According to scientific studies, global warming could accelerate hydrological cycles and therefore cause extreme precipitation. In its Adaptation Gap Report 2016, UNEP warns about the increasing global adaptation costs by 2030 or 2050 that will likely be much higher than currently anticipated. Indeed, global warming could ease the spread of tropical viruses, but it could also multiply heat waves. According to a new study, by 2100 heat waves could endanger 74% of the world population. Camilo Mora, the lead author of the study and biologist at the University of Hawaii alerted on the current situation, highlighting that “we are running out of good options for the future”.
Given such negative prognostics for the future of our planet and mankind, it seems more important than ever to take effective action against global warming. With the adoption of international agreements that include the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015, but also the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda signed the same year, the global community has committed to take action against climate change. The ultimate goal is to keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius by 2050, and therefore mitigate the effects of climate change. This is essential to create the appropriate conditions for developing country resilience to climate change.
Thus, climate change is increasing global risks around the world. If these events have more impact on less developed countries, which are unable to build adapted resilience, then they will also impact developed countries. Therefore it is vital for everyone to take action. It is time to change our rationale about climate change, and to borrow the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, we should see climate action as “a necessity and an opportunity”,. If we fight climate change today then we will be saving lives and money for the years to come.
To learn more about the Global Climate Risk Index 2017, please, visit: http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/file/file/global%20climate%20risk%20index%202017.pdf