India lost $87 billion to climate disasters in 2020: Report

India’s loss was second to China, which lost $238 billion in 2020, the UN weather agency said in its State of the Climate in Asia report
A house damaged due to Cyclone Amphan, at Kakdwip in the Sunderbans, West Bengal, on May 22, 2020. ht file photo
A house damaged due to Cyclone Amphan, at Kakdwip in the Sunderbans, West Bengal, on May 22, 2020. ht file photo
Updated on Oct 27, 2021 03:39 AM IST
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ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi

India lost $87 billion last year due to disasters such as cyclones, floods and droughts, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said in a report on Tuesday, as global warming starts impacting lives and property.

India’s loss was second to China, which lost $238 billion in 2020, the UN weather agency said in its State of the Climate in Asia report, citing estimates by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Losses in Japan was marginally less than India’s at $85 billion.

Droughts were responsible for most of the damage, the weather organisation said.

Last year was the warmest on record in Asia, with mean temperature 1.39 degrees Celsius above the average between 1981 and 2010, which highlights the extent of the climate crisis ahead of the global summit in Glasgow starting later this week.

Many places suffered extreme heat, including a record of 38 degrees Celsius in Verkhoyansk in Russia, the highest known temperature anywhere within the Arctic Circle. The East Asian and South Asian summer monsoons were unusually active, the report said. Combined with frequent cyclones, floods and landslides, they led to loss of life and caused widespread displacement in many countries.

Cyclone Amphan, one of the strongest storms ever, hit the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest straddling India and Bangladesh, in May 2020, displacing 2.4 million people in India and 2.5 million people in Bangladesh, the report said.

The Indian Ocean is also warming up rapidly, along with the Pacific and the Arctic, all of which saw record temperatures on their surface. Sea surface temperatures in and around Asia are increasing three times more than the global average, particularly in the Arabian sea, WMO said. Warmer sea surface increase the probability of severe storms.

“Weather and climate hazards, especially floods, storms and droughts, had significant impacts in many countries of the region, affecting agriculture and food security, contributing to increased displacement and vulnerability of migrants, refugees and displaced people, worsening health risks and exacerbating environmental issues and losses of natural ecosystems,” UN weather chief Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Bihar are most vulnerable to extreme climate events such as floods, droughts and cyclones in India, according to the Climate Vulnerability Index by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), a New Delhi-based think tank.

Overall, 27 Indian states and Union territories are vulnerable to extreme climate events, which often disrupt the local economy and displace weaker communities, CEEW said. More than 80% Indians live in districts vulnerable to climate risks, said the report.

“The frequency and intensity of extreme climate events in India have increased by almost 200% since 2005,” said CEEW’s Abinash Mohanty, lead author of the index report. “With loss and damage rising exponentially due to the climate crisis, India must demand climate finance for adaptation-based climate actions at the Glasgow summit.”

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Saturday, December 04, 2021