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

Why in news?

  • India lost $79.5 billion to climate-related disasters in the last two decades a/c to UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction report.

Report findings:

  • The UNISDR highlighted that there has been a “dramatic rise of 251%” globally in direct economic losses from climate-related disasters in the last 20 years.
  • In the period 1998-2017, disaster-hit countries reported direct economic losses of $2.9 trillion, 77% out of which was caused by climate-related disasters.
  • The report comes in the wake of the IPCC alarm sounding a rise in extreme weather events, if warming is not limited to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.
  • At least 91% of all major disasters recorded from 1988 to 2017 were climate-related says the report.
  • The 2 billion people were affected by floods, which accounted for 43.4% of these disasters, followed by droughts, which affected a further 1.5 billion people.
  • The average number of disasters per year has increased to 329 in the latest 20-year period, with climate change increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather related events.
  • Storms were among the most frequently occurring disasters, along with floods.
  • US recorded the biggest monetary losses reflecting high asset values, while China suffered a significantly higher number of disasters.

Impact on Indian economy:

  • The report shows that while absolute economic losses might be concentrated in high income countries, the human cost of disasters falls on low- and lower middle-income countries.
  • India is among five countries after the US, China and Japan and Puerto Rico, which have witnessed the greatest economic losses due to climate-related disasters.
  • The findings suggest that an average of 130 people died per million living in disaster-affected areas in low income countries, compared to 18 in high-income countries, in disasters since 2000.
  • That means people exposed to natural hazards in the poorest nations were more than seven times more likely to die, than equivalent populations in the richest nations.
  • This report highlights the protection gap between rich and poor.
  • The analysis shows that people in low-income countries are six times more likely to lose all their worldly possessions or suffer injury in a disaster than people in high-income countries.
  • The report’s analysis makes it clear that economic losses from extreme weather events are unsustainable and a major brake on eradicating poverty in hazard-exposed parts of the world.
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