According to a new report commissioned on December 4, 2019, India is the fifth weakest country out of 181 countries most at risk of climate change impact. Japan is the weakest, followed by the Philippines, Germany, and Madagascar.
India has the highest (2,081) deaths in 2018 due to extreme weather events due to climate change – cyclone, heavy rainfall, floods and landslides – found 15th edition of the Global Climate Risk Index 2020 prepared by Bonn-based think-tank Germanwatch . .
Overall, India’s economic loss due to climate change was the second highest in the world with 2.7 lakh crore rupees ($ 37 billion) – nearly as much as its defense budget in 2018. This translates to losing about 0.36 percent per unit of GDP.
COP25: India is fifth weakest among 181 countries due to climate change
The report comes as representatives of 197 countries around the world in Spain’s capital Madrid, for the annual climate discussion at the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25).
The Global Climate Risk Index is based on an analysis of worldwide data on extreme weather events provided by the German reinstatement Munichrek Nächtasserweis – a comprehensive database of natural disasters. The index does not take into account rising sea levels, glacier melting or slower processes of more acidic and warmer seas due to climate change.
More extreme weather events in 2018
India’s overall ranking on the index slipped from 14 points to nine points in 2017 to 5th in 2018 due to extreme weather events.
The report said, “The monsoon season, which runs from June to September, severely affects India in 2018.” A landslide caused by floods in Kerala has left 324 dead, 220,000 dead. More people had to leave their homes, 20,000 houses and 80 dams were destroyed, causing a loss of 20,000 crore rupees ($ 2.8 billion). The report states.
The eastern coast of India hit two cyclones, Titli and Gaza, in October and November 2018 respectively. The report said that with a wind speed of 150 kmph, Cyclone Titley killed at least eight people and left no electricity around 450,000.
India also had one of the longest recorded heatwaves in 2018, with temperatures soaring to 48 degrees Celsius, resulting in hundreds of deaths. This, mixed with a water shortage, led to prolonged droughts, widespread crop failure, violent riots, and increased migration. The report said that the most affected areas in the central, northern and western parts of the country were among the poorest areas in India.
The report states that India has experienced 11 of its 15 hottest years since 2004 (record-keeping began in 1901) and an estimated 25,000 Indians have died since 1992.
India is under extreme heat due to low per capita income, social inequality and heavy dependence on agriculture. By 2050, India will lose 5.8 percent of its working hours due to heat stress, which is equivalent to 34 million full-time jobs out of a total of 80 million worldwide. In India, agriculture and construction, the two largest employers, will bear the brunt of this loss in productivity, the report said.
India’s overall ranking on the index has fluctuated over the past five years. But it has always been one of the five biggest economic losses due to climate change. This is also the highest number of deaths due to extreme weather events in four to five years.
The poorest countries with the worst losses are unable to bear the loss
GermanWatch also created a long-term index of climate change vulnerability, based on data on climate change impacts in the 20 years between 1999 and 2018. India was ranked 17th among the weakest countries. Puerto Rico was the weakest after Myanmar, Haiti, the Philippines, and Pakistan.
Seven of the 10 most-affected countries and regions in the long-term index are low-income or low-middle-income, two are upper-middle-income (Thailand and Dominica), and one (Puerto Rico) is a high-income country. .
The Germanwatch report states that low-income countries are most affected by climate change, but have little potential.
As IndiaSpend reported on December 2, 2019, in a more recent report by more than 100 civil society organizations, the United States and the 27-country European Union were blamed for the bulk of historic carbon emissions.
It is a daily reality for millions of people in the global South who are on the crisis front. These are communities in India whose lives and livelihoods were devastated by two severe cyclones this year.