India was the fifth worst-hit country due to climate change in 2018, primarily due to the devastating Kerala floods and cyclones Titli and Gaja, according to a global climate risk index. In 2017, the country was 14th on the list. The latest Global Climate Risk Index was released by environmental think tank Germanwatch on Wednesday.
Japan, the Philippines, Germany and Madagascar were the top four affected countries out of the 181 countries assessed in 2018, the report said. However, India had the most deaths due to extreme weather events during the year, and the second-highest amount of financial losses. The index score is adjusted for population, and hence assigns India a different rank.
The report said the annual monsoon season severely affected India in 2018, with 2,081 deaths due to extreme weather events and losses of $37.8 billion (approximately Rs 2.7 lakh crore) on a purchasing power parity basis. It also observed that India had suffered from one of the longest ever recorded heatwaves in 2018, where “temperatures of up to 50°C were measured, [and] the extreme water stress was omnipresent”.
“Due to the drought in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and empty water reservoirs, Chennai, a city with over a million inhabitants, could only be supplied with water by trucks and trains,” the report said. “The water supplies for the population had to be accompanied by the police.”
“Prolonged drought and resultant widespread crop failures, compounded by a water shortage, brought about violent riots and increased migration,” the report said. “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.”
The report also listed the countries that were most affected by climate change over the 20-year period of 1999 to 2018. The “Long-Term Climate Risk Index” was led by Puerto Rico, Myanmar, Haiti, Philippines and Pakistan.