Govt to give ‘most vulnerable’ countries $1.3bn to deal with climate change, but how will the recipients be identified?

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Fresh from a weekend of hoopla and incentives (or palpable bribery) to lift the country’s Covid vaccination numbers, the Government turned to another great threat to our wellbeing and is splashing out on helping some countries deal with climate change.

It has committed $1.3 billion over four years “to support countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change”.

At least 50 per cent of the funding will go to the Pacific as it adapts to the impacts of climate change.

Whether the countries that will benefit rank among the “most vulnerable countries” depends on which list you consult.

Point of Order asked Google to tell us which countries are most vulnerable to climate change.

Top of the list of about 178 million responses was an article which referenced the results of the Global Climate Risk Index 2020.

Climate risk  [the article explained] is a concept that reflects countries’ vulnerability to the direct consequences — deaths and economic losses — of extreme weather events and is measured annually by the Germanwatch observatory via the Global Climate Risk Index.

The 2020 index results were presented in Madrid during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP25 Chile) and determined the 10 countries presently most affected by climate change — based on facts from 2018 until the time of compilation.

And the Big Three?

Drum roll please …

According to this analysis, based on the impacts of extreme weather events and the socio-economic losses they cause, Japan, the Philippines and Germany are the most affected places by climate change today.

 Hmm.  We suspect none of those countries is too desperate for our financial assistance.

But we suspected there was a more recent Global Climate Risk Index 2021 based on  data available for 2019 and from 2000 to 2019 – and sure enough, we found it here.

This shows:

  • Mozambique, Zimbabwe and the Bahamas were the countries most affected by the impacts of extreme weather events in 2019.
  • Between 2000 and 2019, Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti were the countries most affected by the impacts of extreme weather events.
  • Altogether, between 2000 and 2019 over 475 000 people lost their lives as a direct result of more than 11 000 extreme weather events globally and losses amounted to around US$ 2.56 trillion (in purchasing power parities).
  • Storms and their direct implications – precipitation, floods and landslides – were one major cause of losses and damages in 2019. Of the ten most affected countries in 2019, six were hit by tropical cyclones. Recent science suggests that the number of severe tropical cyclones will increase with every tenth of a degree in global average temperature rise.
  • In many cases, single exceptionally intense extreme weather events have such a strong impact that the countries and territories concerned also have a high ranking in the long-term index. Over the last few years, another category of countries has been gaining relevance: Countries like Haiti, the Philippines and Pakistan that are recurrently affected by catastrophes continuously rank among the most affected countries both in the long-term index and in the index for the respective year.
  • Developing countries are particularly affected by the impacts of climate change. They are hit hardest because they are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of a hazard but have lower coping capacity. Eight out of the ten countries most affected by the quantified impacts of extreme weather events in 2019 belong to the low- to lower-middle income category. Half of them are Least Developed Countries.
  • The global COVID-19 pandemic has reiterated the fact that both risks and vulnerability are systemic and interconnected. It is therefore important to strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable against different types of risk (climatic, geophysical, economic or health-related).
  • After the international climate policy process stalled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic expectations regarding progress on the long-term finance goal and adequate support for adaptation and L&D lie in 2021 and 2022. The process needs to deliver: a) a decision on how the need for support for vulnerable countries concerning future loss and damage is to be determined on an ongoing basis; b) the necessary steps to generate and make available financial resources to meet these needs; and c) strengthening the implementation of measures for adapting to climate change.

This report contains two tables showing (a) the 10 most affected countries in 2019 and (b) the 10 countries most affected from 2000 to 2019 (annual averages).

We checked out the Climate Risk Index for 2000-2019 of some countries in our neck of the global woods.  The results (the lower the number, the greater the vulnerability) suggest we should be giving priority to helping Fiji and Australia:

19 Fiji

31 Australia

70 Samoa

77 Tonga

90 New Zealand

99 Papua New Guinea

125 Tuvalu

131 Kiribati

There were no data for Niue or the Cook Islands.

We were mindful, of course, there are other lists and sure enough we found a Time magazine report headed The Climate Crisis Is Global, but These 6 Places Face the Most Severe Consequences.

Top of this list was Lagos, Nigeria, followed (in order) by Haiti, Yemen, Manila, Kiribati and  the United Arab Emirates.

The text on Kiribati said:

Rising sea levels mean that Kiribati may be wiped off the map entirely in the coming decades. The islands have even purchased 5,000 acres of land in Fiji in case they need to relocate.

The islands are only six feet above sea level and sit upon a system of atolls and reef islands

Kiribati has allied itself with other vulnerable island countries to advocate for action to fight climate change, and taken other measures such as planting mangrove trees and building sea walls.

Meanwhile, rising sea levels are likely to contaminate the island’s freshwater and harm its soil, which is not especially fertile for agriculture to begin with. The island’s vital fishing industry is also more vulnerable, as climate changes leads to shifts in the ocean, including coral bleaching; damage to the structure of reefs; marine “heat waves”; and other conditions that force marine life to move north.

Back in the Beehive, in the lead-up to the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced the four-fold increase in the support our government will provids “to countries most vulnerable to the climate emergency”.

The increase matches New Zealand’s contribution to global climate funding with COP26 host the United Kingdom on a per person basis.

“New Zealand will do its fair share in the global race to tackle climate change by providing $1.3 billion to assist lower income countries to protect lives, livelihoods and infrastructure from the impacts of climate change,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“I have seen and heard first-hand the impact of climate change in our region. We need to continue to step up our support for our Pacific family and neighbours who are on the front line of climate change and need our support most.

“The investment will enable New Zealand to support clean energy projects in developing countries, ensure buildings are able to withstand more damaging storms, crops are resilient to droughts, floods and new pests, and communities are protected from sea level rise and storm surges.”

James Shaw confirmed that at least half of New Zealand’s new $1.3 billion climate finance commitment, which covers the period 2022 to 2025, will go towards supporting New Zealand’s Pacific neighbours.

“Developing countries are those most uniquely at risk from the climate crisis. We can see that in the Pacific, where some of our closest neighbours are already experiencing rising sea levels and more extreme weather. This is having an impact on people’s livelihoods and ability to provide for their families,” James Shaw said.

“For these countries, the impacts of climate change that scientists have been warning us about for decades are not academic, or a distance threat; they are happening right now.”


“Massively increasing our contribution to the global effort will benefit local communities, and also further cement New Zealand’s presence in the region as a constructive, supportive country, committed to a resilient, prosperous future for Pacific Islands,” James Shaw said.

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2 thoughts on “Govt to give ‘most vulnerable’ countries $1.3bn to deal with climate change, but how will the recipients be identified?

  1. The vast majority of Pacific Islands are, in fact, growing in size and becoming greener.
    Storms/hurricanes are NOT growing in number or magnitude.
    CLIMATE CHANGE DISPATCH provides plenty of information for those motivated enough to go find the facts rather than the propaganda that is the so-called “Climate Change Emergency”

    Liked by 1 person

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