India lost $79.5 billion due to climate-related disasters in last 20 years: UN

India lost $79.5 billion to climate-related disasters in the last two decades, according to a United Nations (UN) report released.

The report comes in the wake of the global organization sounding the alarm on the dire effects of climate change, including a rise in extreme weather events if warming is not limited to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.

Highlights of the report:

The report highlights the impact of extreme weather events on the global economy. It states that the years between 1998 to 2017 have seen a dramatic rise of 151% in direct economic losses from climate-related disasters.

In terms of the impact of disasters on the global economy between 1998 and 2017, affected countries reported direct losses of $2.908 trillion, more than twice of what was lost in the previous two decades.

Extreme weather events now account for 77 % of total economic losses of $2.245 trillion. This represents a “dramatic rise” of 151% compared with losses reported between 1978 and 1997, which amounted to $895 billion.

The greatest economic losses have been experienced by the US at $944.8 billion, followed by China at $492.2 billion, Japan at $376.3 billion, India at USD 79.5 billion and Puerto Rico at USD 71.7 billion.

Storms, floods, and earthquakes place three European countries in the top ten nations for economic losses: France, $48.3 billion; Germany, $57.9 billion and Italy $56.6 billion. Thailand with $52.4 billion and Mexico at $46.5 billion complete the list.

In terms of occurrences, climate-related disasters also dominate the picture, accounting for 91 percent of all 7,255 major recorded events between 1998 and 2017. Floods (43.4 percent) and storms (28.2 percent) are the two most frequently occurring disasters.

During this period, 1.3 million people lost their lives and 4.4 billion people were injured, rendered homeless, displaced or in need of emergency assistance. 563 earthquakes, including related tsunamis, accounted for 56 percent of the total deaths or 747,234 lives lost.

The report concludes that climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. The disasters will continue to be major impediments to sustainable development so long as the economic incentives to build and develop hazard-prone locations outweigh the perceived disaster risks.

Way ahead:

In the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, it is clear that disasters have a steep human cost as millions of people are displaced every year, losing their homes and jobs because of extreme weather events and earthquakes. Therefore, a better understanding of the economic losses from extreme weather events can help to generate greater action on climate change and increased ambition in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Measuring economic losses can also motivate Governments to do more to achieve the targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which seeks a substantial reduction in disaster losses by 2030. Besides, reducing the economic losses from disasters has the power to transform lives and contribute greatly to the eradication of poverty.

Integrating disaster risk reduction into investment decisions is the most cost-effective way to reduce these risks; investing in disaster risk reduction is, therefore, a pre-condition for developing sustainable in a changing climate.

UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR):

It was established in 1999 as dedicated secretariat to facilitate the implementation of International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). It is an organizational unit of UN Secretariat and is led by the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction (SRSG). It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

It is mandated by United Nations General Assembly resolution (56/195) to serve as focal point in United Nations system for coordination of disaster reduction and to ensure synergies among disaster reduction activities of United Nations system and regional organizations and activities in socio‐economic and humanitarian fields.

 

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