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.
India has also recorded the highest number of fatalities due to climate change and the second highest monetary losses from its impact in 2018. India’s high rank is due to severe rainfalls, followed by heavy flooding and landslide that killed over 1000 people.
Germanwatch, based in Bonn and Berlin (Germany), is an independent development and environmental organisation which works for sustainable global development.
“India’s increasing vulnerability is due to severe rainfall, heavy flooding and landslide. The state of Kerala was especially impacted. 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 David Eckstein, policy advisor, climate finance and investment at Germanwatct.
The report shows that extreme weather, linked with climate change, is not only affecting poorer countries like Myanmar and Haiti, but also some of the world’s richest countries. Japan is the worst-hit country in 2018 (the last year covered by the data), while Germany and Canada were both also in the ‘bottom 10’, that is, the most affected.
The results reflect the increasing damage caused by heatwaves, which scientists have found are being worsened by the climate change.
Other countries ranking in the bottom 20 in the overall climate risk categories are US, Vietnam, Bangladesh and France at 12th, 6th, 7th and 15th respectively.
The report also points to the importance of negotiations at COP25, the international climate summit running in Madrid from 2-13 December. As climate change begins to result in permanent loss and damage across the world, there is still no specific UN climate finance facility to reimburse the loss of land, culture and human lives. So far, the industrialised countries have refused to even negotiate it.
But at COP25, for the first time, financial support for climate-related loss and damage is high on the agenda. For the poorest and most vulnerable countries, this climate summit is therefore of utmost importance. They demand that states agree a deal to support those who are suffering, or at least acknowledge the necessity, with a pathway towards real help. Otherwise, the poorest countries will continue to rely on loans to cope with the consequences of climate change, which means they are threatened with excessive debts, undermining often already vulnerable economies.