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More and more countries are now being impacted by climate change, with devastating consequences being felt in both rich and poor countries across the globe. As per a report released by international environment think tank Germanwatch, around 60 million people were affected by extreme weather in 2018. India recorded the highest number of fatalities due to climate change and the second highest monetary losses from its impact last year. In the Climate Risk Index 2020, India’s rank has worsened from the 14th spot in 2017 to 5th in 2018 in the global vulnerability ladder.
Key Highlights:

  • Countries Most Affected in 2018 Japan, the Philippines and Germany were the most affected countries in 2018 followed by Madagascar, India and Sri Lanka.
  • Between 1999 and 2018, Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti were the countries most affected by extreme weather events.
  • Altogether, about 495 000 people died as a direct result of extreme weather events globally and losses between 1999 and 2018 amounted to around US$ 3.54 trillion (in purchasing power parities).
  • Heatwaves were one major cause of damage in 2018. Of the ten most affected countries in 2018, Germany, Japan and India were suffering from extended periods of heat.
  • In many cases (e.g. Puerto Rico), single exceptional disasters 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.
  • Of the ten most affected countries and territories in the period 1999 to 2018, seven were developing countries in the low income or lower-middle income country group, two were classified as upper-middle income countries (Thailand and Dominica) and one was an advanced economy generating high income (Puerto Rico).

Key Highlights (India):

  • The yearly monsoon season, lasting from June to September, severely affected India in 2018.
  • India is the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change.
  • In 2020, India’s rank has worsened from the 14th spot in 2017 to 5th in 2018 in the global vulnerability
  • The state of Kerala was especially impacted – 324 people died because of drowning or being buried in the landslides set off by the flooding,30 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, India’s east 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

Heatwaves- a Global Threat:

  • The occurrence of heatwaves is a global problem, both for countries in the global South and in the global North.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that it is likely that [due to climate change] the frequency of heatwaves has increased in large parts of Europe, Asia and Australia.
  • According to the IPCC’s special report on 1.5 degrees “the number of highly unusual hot days is projected to increase the most in the tropics”.
  • Indian Heatwaves
    • India suffered from one of the longest ever recorded heatwaves in 2018, with hundreds of deaths, when temperatures climbed to up to 48°C.
    • Prolonged drought and resultant widespread crop failures, compounded by a water shortage, brought about violent riots and increased migration.
    • India is among those countries that were particularly affected by extreme heat in both 2018 and 2019.
    • Since 2004, India has experienced 11 of its 15 warmest recorded years. Since 1992, an estimated 25 000 Indians have died as a result of heatwaves.
    • Contributing factors include increasing temperatures, an irregular El Nino in which the Central Pacific Ocean is warmer than the East Pacific, and the loss of tree cover, reducing shade as well as the moisture in the soil.
    • India is particularly vulnerable to extreme heat due to low per capita income, social inequality and a heavy reliance on agriculture.
    • The worst hit regions have also been among India’s poorest. Additionally, a high number of people are working in areas such as agriculture and construction. A study by the International Labour Organization concludes that by 2030, India would lose 5.8% 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.

Initiatives of the Government towards combating climate change:

  • India is the only G20 country who’s pledge is considered sufficient by an independent regulator called Carbon Tracker Initiative.
  • We have doubled our targets for for renewable energy.
  • We are 18% of the world’s population but consuming only 6% of the energy.
  • National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)
  • International Solar Alliance (ISA)
  • State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC)
  • FAME Scheme for E-mobility
  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for Smart Cities
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
  • UJALA scheme
  • Swachh Bharat Mission