Wide fault lines within the Global Climate Risk Index

News: Global Climate Risk Index has many fault lines hence, effective methods to manage climate change are needed.

Global Climate Risk Index” (GCRI), published annually by GermanWatch, ranks 180 countries based on the impact of extreme weather events and associated socio-economic data from 2000-2019.

It aims to forewarn countries about the possibility of more frequent and/or severe climate-related events in the future.

However, recommendations based on this index should be used with caution due to deep fault lines in its methodology and interpretation of the country rankings.

What is climate risk?

IPCC, defines climate risk as the likelihood of unfavorable impacts occurring as a result of severe climate events interacting with vulnerable environmental, social, economic, political, or cultural conditions.

Quantitatively, it is the product of the probability of a climate event occurring and its adverse consequences.

What are the issues in Global Climate Risk Index?

First, the GCRI report does not provide a rationale for the selection of macro indicators. Out of the four key indicators (The number of deaths, number of deaths per 1,00,000 inhabitants sum of losses in Purchasing Power Parity, and losses per unit of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)) two are absolute while the other two are relative.

Second, the index suffers from exclusion errors and selection bias. It excludes a number of key micro indicators such as the total number of people injured, loss of livestock, loss of public and private infrastructure, crop loss, and others that are better suited for assessing the composite loss resulting from climate change events.

Third, the index omits geological incidents like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or tsunamis, which may be potentially triggered by climate change and can have an economic and humanitarian impact.

Fourth, data not validated at ground level: The ranking under the GCRI is done based on data collected by Munich Re’s NatCatService, which is not validated at the ground-level. They are at best approximate values of economic losses.

What is the way forward?

Climate change can at best be managed within a comprehensive risk assessment framework, which uses climate information to better cope with the impact of climate change.

In this context, India’s latest module on the National Disaster Management Information System (NDMIS) extensively captures damages and losses caused by disasters. The data captured by the NDMIS includes all major climatic events.

It is necessary that India should use its own comprehensive risk assessment framework to identify climate risks.

Source: This post is based on the article “Wide fault lines within the Global Climate Risk Index” published in The Hindu on 18th November 2021.

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