India amongst the top 10 countries most affected by climate change in 2019 globally: Global Climate Risk Index 2021

Cyclone Fani was the worst cyclone that hit India in May 2019 and affected around 28 million people and killing an estimated 90 people in India and Bangladesh.

India was the seventh most affected by the impact of climate change globally in 2019, according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021 published on Monday by the Bonn-based environmental think tank Germanwatch. Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Bahamas, Japan, Malawi and Afghanistan were the six countries that were assessed to have been affected worse than India.

The results were published a few hours before the Global Climate Adaptation Summit hosted by the Netherlands. The Global Climate Risk Index 2021 analyzed and ranked the countries based on the impacts of climate-related extreme weather events. It took into account data from 2000 to 2019. 

Vulnerable countries are the most affected

The report reveals that between 2000 and 2019, eight of the ten countries most affected by climate change were developing countries from the low or lower-middle brackets when it came to per capitaincome. According to David Eckstein of Germanwatch, the report shows that poor vulnerable countries are impacted the most by the consequences of extreme weather events.

Vulnerable communities residing in developing countries suffered the most from extreme weather events like storms, floods and heatwaves, while the impacts of climate change were visible around the globe, the report states.

Between 2000 and 2019, around 475,000 people lost their lives as a direct result of 11,000 extreme weather events globally, the report says. The economic damage due to these events is estimated at US $2.56 trillion (in purchasing power parities).

According to the report, storms and their direct implications were the major cause of damage in 2019. Of the ten most affected countries in 2019, six were hit by tropical cyclones.

Longer monsoon in India in 2019

In 2019, the monsoon saw prolonged activity over the Indian subcontinent, exceeding the normal duration by around one month. From June to end of September 2019, 110% of the normal rainfall occurred, the most since 1994. A total of 1,800 deaths across 14 states in India were attributed to flooding caused by heavy rains which lead to displacement of 1.8 million people.

Overall, 11.8 million people were affected by intense monsoon with economic damage estimated to be US $10 billion. 

“A majority of the Indian population is dependent on agriculture, which is being severely affected by the impacts of climate change,” said Anjal Prakash, Research Director and Adjunct Associate Professor at Bharti Institute of Public Policy. This year, India saw many of its cities drowning due to variability of the monsoon system, he added.

Devastating cyclones over the Indian Ocean

As per the report, the year 2019 was one of the most active Northern Indian Ocean cyclone seasons on record. A total of eight tropical cyclones hit India in 2019 with six of them intensifying to become “very severe”.

Cyclone Fani was the worst cyclone that hit India in May 2019 and affected around 28 million people and killing an estimated 90 people in India and Bangladesh. It also incurred an economic loss of US $8.1 billion, the report said.

The report reveals that cyclone Idai was the deadliest and costliest tropical cyclone in the South-West Indian Ocean. Mozambique and Zimbabwe were the most affected countries by Idai.


The Germanwatch report reveals that the issue of loss and damage from climate change requires much greater emphasis. Better adaptation measures and integrated risk management strategies are required to ensure better protection of the affected population.

According to Laura Schaefer of Germanwatch “…Strengthening the climate resilience of countries is a crucial part of this challenge. The Climate Adaptation Summit offers the opportunity to take an important step in this direction,” she added.

In case of an emergency, awareness and preparation are key for people to be able to react quickly. Bangladesh which is more prone to tropical cyclones has a dense network of small cyclone shelters, early warning systems, evacuation plans, reforestation schemes and increased communication which has contributed to reducing cyclone-related mortality by more than 100-fold over a period of 40 years.

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