Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: “Economic Losses, Poverty and Disasters” Report
Mains level: Economic impact of natural disasters on middle income countries like India.
“Economic Losses, Poverty and Disasters” Report
- India lost $79.5 billion to climate-related disasters in the last two decades a/c to UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction report.
- The UNISDR highlighted that there has been a “dramatic rise of 251%” globally in direct economic losses from climate-related disasters in the last 20 years.
- In the period 1998-2017, disaster-hit countries reported direct economic losses of $2.9 trillion, 77% out of which was caused by climate-related disasters.
- The report comes in the wake of the IPCC alarm sounding a rise in extreme weather events, if warming is not limited to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.
Findings of the Report
- At least 91% of all major disasters recorded from 1988 to 2017 were climate-related says the report.
- The 2 billion people were affected by floods, which accounted for 43.4% of these disasters, followed by droughts, which affected a further 1.5 billion people.
- The average number of disasters per year has increased to 329 in the latest 20-year period, with climate change increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather related events.
- Storms were among the most frequently occurring disasters, along with floods.
- US recorded the biggest monetary losses reflecting high asset values, while China suffered a significantly higher number of disasters.
Impact on India
- The report shows that while absolute economic losses might be concentrated in high income countries, the human cost of disasters falls on low- and lower middle-income countries.
- India is among five countries after the US, China and Japan and Puerto Rico, which have witnessed the greatest economic losses due to climate-related disasters.
- The findings suggest that an average of 130 people died per million living in disaster-affected areas in low income countries, compared to 18 in high-income countries, in disasters since 2000.
- That means people exposed to natural hazards in the poorest nations were more than seven times more likely to die, than equivalent populations in the richest nations.
Protection Gap worsens the Losses
- This report highlights the protection gap between rich and poor.
- The analysis shows that people in low-income countries are six times more likely to lose all their worldly possessions or suffer injury in a disaster than people in high-income countries.
- The report’s analysis makes it clear that economic losses from extreme weather events are unsustainable and a major brake on eradicating poverty in hazard-exposed parts of the world.