Rescue volunteers carry women from their flooded homes in Kerala. (PTI)

India Lost $79.5 Billion From Climate-Related Disasters In 20 Years

India suffered a $79.5-billion economic loss due to climate-related disasters in the last 20 years, according to a United Nations report which highlights the impact of extreme weather events on the global economy.

The report titled “Economic Losses, Poverty and Disasters 1998-2017” was compiled by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. It states that the years between 1998 and 2017 have seen a rise of 151 percent in direct economic losses from climate-related disasters.

Affected countries reported direct losses of $2.91 trillion in terms of the impact of disasters on the global economy between 1998 and 2017, more than twice of what was lost in the previous two decades.

Extreme weather events now account for 77 percent of total economic losses of $2.25 trillion illustrating the growing threat from climate change.

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

Storms, floods and earthquakes place three European countries in the top 10 nations for economic losses: France ($48.3 billion), Germany ($57.9 billion) and Italy ($56.6 billion)

Climate-related disasters also dominate the picture in terms of occurrences 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.

Around 1.3 million people lost their lives and 4.4 billion people were injured, rendered homeless, displaced or in need of emergency assistance during this period.

As many as 563 earthquakes, including related tsunamis, accounted for 56 percent of the total deaths or 7.47 lakh lives lost, the report said. The report was released ahead of the International Day for Disaster Reduction on Oct. 13.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, it was 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.

“A better understanding of the economic losses from extreme weather events can help to generate greater action on climate change and increased ambition on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions,” he said.

Guterres said reducing the economic losses from disasters has the power to transform lives and contribute greatly to the eradication of poverty.

A key target of the global plan to reduce disaster losses, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, is to reduce economic losses from disasters and the report highlights the fact that 63 percent of disaster reports contain no economic data.

Another key highlight is the disproportionate impact of disaster events on low and middle-income countries even if high-income countries bear the brunt of absolute economic losses.

Also read: How An Erratic Monsoon Wreaks Havoc On India And Beyond