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The rise in extreme climate events – editorials

More than 75% of India’s districts are hotspots of extreme climate events and are bearing the lethal effects of a rapidly-changing microclimate with loss of property, livelihoods and lives, according to a study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW). The report notes that while India witnessed 250 extreme climate events between 1970 and 2005, the country recorded 310 extreme weather events after 2005.

That India has been at the receiving end of the climate crisis is known. According to the Climate Risk Index, 2018, the country jumped nine places in climate vulnerability rankings, and was ranked the fifth-most climate-vulnerable country in the world. Storms are escalating into cyclones, droughts are affecting more than half the country, and floods of an unprecedented scale are causing catastrophic damage. The Centre has done well in treating climate as a priority issue — but the scale of the destruction of lives, livelihoods and critical infrastructure warrants more action.

It is not just the Centre; states have a key role too. The State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCCs) need upscaling and capacity enhancement. Many pilot projects on resilience are taking place; the effective ones need to be replicated quickly. There has to be a sharper focus on building institutional and human capacity and district-level localisation of SAPCCs so that the authorities can respond to changing climate challenges quickly and effectively. The report provides yet another warning that business-as-usual isn’t sustainable.

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