Amid calls for much stronger action on climate change, a new report on Tuesday said more than 5.2 lakh people died in extreme weather events across the world in the last twenty years, with India accounting for the second highest number of these casualties after Myanmar.
Just in 2017 alone, 2,736 people in India died in extreme weather events like floods, excessive rain or cyclones, the report by Germanwatch, an independent development organisation, said. This too was the second highest number of such deaths in the world, topped only by Puerto Rico, which bore the brunt of Hurricane Maria in September 2017 which claimed 2,978 lives.
In the 20-year period between 1998 and 2017, India lost, on an average, 3,660 people every year, with a total of 73,212 casualties.
During this period, India faced super cyclone in Odisha, several other cyclones, floods, landslides and extreme rain and heat-wave events.
Deaths caused by natural calamities like earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanoes are not included in the data because these are not caused by climate change.
The extreme weather events also resulted in a financial loss of $ 67.2 billion (in PPP terms) for India over the two-decade period. Globally, financial losses worth $ 3.47 trillion (in PPP) were recorded, said the report, which relied on data collected by insurance giant Munich Re.
The report put India 14th on the list of countries at maximum risk to climate change, based on how it had been impacted events in the last two decades.
Puerto Rico, Honduras and Myanmar, all of which have faced the brunt of several cyclonic events, and lost many more lives as a proportion to their total population, were classified to be at maximum risk.
The report came as negotiators got down to their job of finalising the rulebook that will guide the implementation of the landmark Paris Agreement. This involves the finalisation of such things as accounting standards to measure emissions, processes for monitoring, reporting and verification of actions being taken by individual countries, mechanisms to raise financial resources and ensure the flow of funds for climate projects, and institutions to facilitate the diffusion of appropriate technologies to countries and regions that need them.