The recently released Global Climate Risk Index 2018 report has put India amongst the sixth most vulnerable countries after Haiti, Zimbabwe, Fiji, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. The report, recently released in Germany, has, however, analysed and taken into account data between 1997 and 2016.
Prepared by a group of researchers on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), has estimated that more than 5.24 lakh people died across the world, as a direct result of more than 11 000 extreme weather events accounting to loss of around US$ 3.16 trillion during this period.
In India 2,119 people were killed during 2016, a number higher than any other country, losing $21,500 million the third highest financial loss after those suffered by China and the US. The report ranked the US fifth in fatalities from climate change impacts during 2016.
It mentions the heat waves in South Asia which persisted until the beginning of summer 2016, breaking a record of 51°C in Rajasthan, in May 2016. Over a thousand people died of hyperthermia or dehydration. In total, 1 800 fatalities were reported, especially in Southeast India. The persisting drought and heat waves affected over 330 million people. They were followed by an extreme monsoon season lasting from June to October in eastern, western and central India. At least 300 people died due to the heavy rainfall and landslides and millions of people were affected by washed away crops, destroyed roads or disrupted electricity and phone lines. On 12th December 2016, cyclone Vardah, one of the costliest cyclones ever in the North Indian Ocean basin, made landfall in Chennai 31. Several people died here and infrastructure was severely damaged.
Researchers also conclude that sea surface temperature seems to play a key role in intensifying storms. But said, it was difficult to distinguish between natural variability and human induced extremes. It concluded that rising sea level, which is partly caused by climate change, was responsible for the increased intensity of floods, storms and droughts. For example, a study shows that the 2016 torrential rains in Louisiana, USA, were made almost twice as likely by human-induced climate change.
Furthermore, the report also found increasing evidence on the link between extreme El Niño events and global warming. Date collected in 2014 showed, the occurrence of such events could double in the future due to climate change.