India Hit by a Fourth of Asia Pacific's $230 Billion Economic Loss Due to Weather Disasters

Substantial Economic Impact

India has borne a significant share of the economic burden caused by weather-related disasters in the Asia Pacific region. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), citing data from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), India suffered damages exceeding $56 billion from 2019 to 2023. This accounts for nearly a quarter of the $230 billion total economic losses in the region during the same period.

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Human Toll and Regional Comparison

In addition to economic damages, the human toll has been considerable. Over the five years, 54 million people in India were affected by weather-related disasters, representing two-thirds of the 82.1 million people impacted in South Asia. Within the broader Asia Pacific context, India accounted for 21% of the 256 million individuals affected.

India's losses are particularly pronounced when compared to other regions. South Asia, which includes countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, suffered $59.2 billion in damages, with India contributing the largest share. This makes South Asia the second hardest-hit region after East Asia, which includes China, Japan, and South Korea, and experienced losses of $130.7 billion.

Mortality and Regional Disparities

The period also saw a significant loss of life, with India recording 10,000 deaths due to weather-related disasters. This figure constitutes the majority of the 11,995 deaths in South Asia and over two-fifths of the 23,525 deaths across the Asia Pacific. Other regions like Central Asia and West Asia also faced considerable fatalities, with 4,723 deaths, further highlighting the widespread human cost of these disasters.

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India’s Climate Action Initiatives

In response to these challenges, India has been proactive in addressing climate change. The government has set ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, aiming for net zero emissions by 2070. In its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) updated in August 2022, India committed to reducing emissions intensity and increasing the share of non-fossil fuel energy.

By 2023, India had already surpassed its 2015 target of achieving 40% of its installed power capacity from non-fossil fuels, reaching 43%. Additionally, India achieved a 33% reduction in carbon intensity from 2005 levels by 2019.

Advocating for Equitable Climate Action

Despite these strides, India maintains minimal historical contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. With 17% of the world’s population, India's per capita emissions are about one-third of the worldwide average. India continues to advocate for equitable climate action, emphasising justice and shared responsibilities among nations.

In conclusion, the substantial economic and human toll of weather-related disasters on India highlights the urgent need for robust climate resilience and mitigation strategies. As India continues to lead by example in reducing emissions and enhancing sustainability, the international community must also take concerted action to address the global challenge of climate change.

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