India recorded extreme weather events nearly every day in the first nine months of the year, according to a new report, including heatwaves, cold waves, cyclones, lightning, heavy rainfall, floods and landslides.
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a public interest research and advocacy organisation, said that extreme weather struck India on 241 of 273 days from January to October 1.
Together the disasters claimed 2,755 lives, affected 1.8 million hectares of crops, destroyed 416,667 houses and killed 69,007 livestock.
“This is the watermark of climate change. It is not about a single event but about the increased frequency of the events – that what we saw as the one-in-100-years extreme event has now been compressed to become one in five years or even less,” said CSE’s director general Sunita Narain.
Being both a climate-vulnerable as well as a high-emitting country, experts say India occupies a unique position around the global climate policy negotiating table.
About 80 percent of India’s population live in regions highly vulnerable to extreme disasters like severe flooding or heatwaves.
“Worse, it is now all coming together – each month is breaking a new record. This in turn is breaking the backs of the poorest who are worst impacted and are fast losing their capacities to cope with these repeated and frequent events,” Narain said.
According to the 2022 Climate Transparency Report (CTR), released last month by a partnership of climate analysis organisations in G20 countries, India’s losses were highest in four sectors: services, manufacturing, agriculture and construction.
“Losses to earnings from heat-related labour capacity reduction were the highest in India among G20 nations in 2021,” said the CTR analysis.
Loss of potential income in the services, manufacturing, agriculture and construction sectors last year cost India 5.4 percent of its GDP, ahead of Indonesia (1.6 percent) and Saudi Arabia (1 percent).
Heat exposure in India led to the loss of 167 billion potential labour hours in 2021, a 39 percent increase from the decade between 1990 and 1999.
And at 3°C of warming, the exposure to heatwaves will increase to almost 30 percent of India’s population, the report said.
Climate funds for developing countries?
Climate finance remains a major source of contention within the group of the world’s major advanced and developing economies.
A key issue for India at Cop27 will be how to finance both adapting to climate change and limiting fossil fuel emissions.
India wants the $100 billion-a-year pledge of climate funds for developing countries, a promise made in 2009 that hasn’t yet been fulfilled despite being two years past its deadline.
“New Delhi should vocalize its support for climate finance and energy transition at the summit. According to the CTR report, India is the only G20 nation achieving its climate mitigation commitments in the Paris Accords without external support,” said Phalak Vyas, who researches international relations at Pandit Deendayal Energy University.
“India has successfully improved its renewable energy usage and can use its experience to act as a bridge between the G20 and developing nations.”
India will soon begin its one-year-long tenure as head of the G20, starting in December 2022 until November 2023.
India’s foreign ministry has indicated that India’s presidency will focus on climate finance, energy security and green hydrogen in the energy sector.
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