Climate Change

How ready is India for climate change? Not much, says this report

All south Asian countries fared poorly in the 2020 World Risk Index on strengthening their abilities to prepare and adapt to extreme events

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Wednesday 23 September 2020
Deshbandhu Park in Kolkata after Cyclone Amphan in early 2020. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

India was ‘poorly prepared’ to deal with ‘climate reality’, due to which it was more vulnerable to extreme natural disasters, according to the World Risk Index (WRI) 2020.

India ranked 89th among 181 countries on the WRI 2020. The country was fourth-most-at- risk in south Asia on the index, after Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives fared better than India in their abilities to cope with extreme disasters, the report said. India also lagged behind these three neighbours in terms of lack of adaptive capacities or the preparedness to deal with extreme events.

India and other south Asian nations did improve their ranking marginally in the World Risk Index during the course of a year. Bhutan improved its ranking the most, followed by Pakistan.

Country Global rank in World
Risk Index 2020
Global rank in World
Risk Index  2019
Afghanistan 57 53
Bangladesh 13 10
Bhutan 152 143
India 89 85
Maldives 171 169
Nepal 121 116
Pakistan 87 80
Sri Lanka 74 73

But all south Asian countries had slipped on their ability to adapt to the reality of climate emergency, a comparison with the World Risk Index 2019 showed.

India also slipped on strengthening adaptive capacities. This is worrying given that the country’s first comprehensive climate change assessment report has set alarm bells ringing about the impacts of ‘climate crisis’

Country Adaptive capacities in World
Risk Index 2020 (out of 100)
Adaptive capacities in World
Risk Index 2019
(score out of 100)
 Afghanistan  92.09  59.75
Bangladesh 85.81 54.44
Bhutan 72.82 46.65
India 78.15 48.4
Maldives 76.51 36.29
Nepal 83.34 48.85
Pakistan 84.81 51.62
Sri Lanka 77.3 39.94

Countries with a score above 52.73, were ‘very poor’ in their capacities to adapt to extreme natural disasters, according to the index.

Hence, all south Asian countries fared poorly in the 2020 index (as compared to 2019) on strengthening their abilities to prepare and adapt to extreme events.  

Small island nations and Africa

The index showed that Oceania was the continent most at risk, followed by Africa and the Americas. Vanuatu was the country with the highest disaster risk worldwide. It was followed by Tonga and Dominica.

Small island states, especially in the South Pacific and the Caribbean, were disproportionately represented among high-risk countries, due to their high exposure to extreme natural events. These also included countries at risk from the rise in sea level as a result of global warming.

The small island states had limited financial resources and had made small contributions to climate change, but were affected the most by its consequences.

Hence, merely providing financial resources for adaptation to climate change was not sufficient.  They needed to be compensated for the climate damage and losses already incurred, the report suggested.

Qatar had the lowest risk (0.31) according to the global index.

The report identified Africa as a hotspot of vulnerability. More than two-thirds of the most vulnerable countries in the world were located on the continent.

The Central African Republic was the most vulnerable country, followed by Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger and Guinea-Bissau.

The WRI is part of the World Risk Report 2020 released September 15 by the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and Bundnis Entwicklung Hilft, in cooperation with the University of Stuttgart in Germany.

The WRI is calculated on a country-by-country basis, through the multiplication of exposure and vulnerability. The WRI, released annually since 2011, indicates which countries are in the greatest need to strengthen measures for coping with and adapting to extreme natural events.

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