Even as world leaders meet at the COP25, underway in Madrid, to discuss climate change issues, the Global Climate Risk Index released by international environmental think tank Germanwatch on Wednesday, shows that India has fallen from its 15th rank of countries hit most by climate change-induced weather phenomena in 2017, to number five in 2018. Japan topped the list followed by the Phillipines and Germany.
“Extreme weather events are massive challenges especially for poor and vulnerable countries, but also high-income countries are threatened more and more by climate risks,”says the report. Experts now say that industrialised countries, like Japan and Germany, were hit hardest by heatwaves and severe drought. The Philippines were hit by the most powerful typhoon recorded worldwide in 2018.
Looking at the period between 1999 -2018, poor countries had to face much higher impacts. Seven of the ten countries most affected in this period are developing countries with low or lower middle income per capita. Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti were most affected, according to this long-term index. In the past 20 years, globally, nearly 500,000 fatalities were directly linked to more than 12,000 extreme weather events. The economic damages amounted to approximately US$3.54 trillion.
The report says that in India, it was the 2018 monsoon that severely affected the country and contributed to its sliding to the number 5 position.
“The state of Kerala was especially impacted, 324 people died because of drowning or being buried in the landslides set off by the flooding – the worst in one hundred years. Over 220,000 people had to leave their homes, 20 000 houses and 80 dams were destroyed. The damage amounted to EUR 2.4 billion (US$ 2.8 billion). Furthermore, the Indian coast was hit by the cyclones Titli and Gaja in October and November 2018. With wind speeds of up to 150 kilometres per hour, cyclone Titli killed at least eight people and left around 450,000 without electricity,”said the report.
“India’s high rank is due to severe rainfalls, followed by heavy flooding and landslides that killed over 1,000 people. The floods were described as the worst of the last 100 years. Furthermore, India was struck by two cyclones in October and November 2018 that also nearly killed 1,000 people. Last but not least, India also suffered from extreme heat. While human death toll was kept considerably low due to public measures, the economic damages were quite severe,”said said David Eckstein of Germanwatch.
Germanwatch receives its data for annually calculating the Global Climate Risk Index from the NatCatSERVICE database of the reinsurance company Munich Re, as well as the socio-economic data of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).