India has accounted for the highest fatalities in the world due to catastrophic climate events, which claimed 2,081 lives in the country last year. The country also witnessed the second-highest economic losses of over $37,000 millionequivalent to nearly four times the annual budget for the health sector.

The Global Climate Risk Index 2020, released by environmental think-tank Germanwatch on Wednesday during the ongoing COP 25 meet in Madrid, ranks India as the fifth-most vulnerable country in the world in terms of experiencing extreme weather events. The report also revealed that while in 2018, industrialised countries such as Japan and Germany were hit hardest by heatwaves and severe drought, the Philippines was hit by the most powerful typhoon recorded across the world.

Germanwatch is a Bonnbased independent developmental and environmental organisation. Its annual report evaluates climate protection performance of 56 countries and the EU, responsible for 90% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

India, Germany & Japan suffering from extended periods of heatwave

The in-depth global analysis said that India was distressed from varied climate change events, majorly including floods, drought, cyclones and heatwaves. The climate risk index analysis quantifies impacts of extreme weather events in terms of both fatalities and economic losses. It analyses four main indicators: Number of deaths, number of deaths per 1,00,000 inhabitants, sum of losses (in $) in purchasing power parity and losses per unit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In the report, which was based on 2017’s data and released in Poland last year, India was ranked as the 14th most vulnerable country. Witnessing a drastic fall in its rank, India reportedly bore absolute losses over Rs 2 lakh crores in 2018 due to climate change.

Stating that heatwaves were one of the major causes of damage last year, the report highlights that of the 10 most affected countries, Germany, Japan and India were suffering from extended periods of heat. “India suffered from one of the longest-ever recorded heatwave in 2018, with hundreds of deaths. Prolonged drought and widespread crop failures, compounded by a water shortage, brought about violent riots and increased migration,” the report states.

It further pointed out that since 2004, India has experienced 11of its 15 warmest recorded years. “Since 1992, an estimated 25,000 Indians died as a result of heatwaves,” stated the report which attributes the calamity to El Niño effect, loss of tree cover and moisture in the soil.

“India is particularly vulnerable to extreme heat due to low per capita income, social inequality and a heavy reliance on agriculture,” the analysis added.