State of India's Environment 2024: Dire climate warnings amidst record high temperatures

01:02 PM Feb 29, 2024 | Press Release |

The year 2023 has been the warmest year on record in the history of the Earth – 1.48 degrees warmer than the 1850-1900 period (pre-industrial average); the year also had the highest number of days with global mean temperatures above 1.5oC.


Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE’s) annual Anil Agarwal Dialogue, a national conclave of environment and development journalists, started off here today with these dire assessments of the year gone by. This and other data feature in the State of India’s Environment 2024 report, which was released at this Dialogue by economist Nitin Desai, senior journalist T N Ninan, and CSE director general Sunita Narain. The report is collated and published annually by Down To Earth magazine.

The report presents data that says about 109 nations suffered losses due to extreme weather events in 2023, with countries in Africa, Europe and West Asia taking up the lion’s share: 59 countries in this region were impacted and the highest number of deaths from these events happened in this region. Indonesia had the maximum number of affected people (almost 19 million), while Libya suffered the most deaths.

In India, 2023 saw its warmest ever August and September in 122 years. Through the year, the country witnessed an extreme weather event almost every day – over the 365 days between January 1 and December 31, such events happened on 318 days. They claimed 3,287 human lives, affected 2.21 million hectare (ha) of crop area, damaged 86,432 houses and caused 124,813 animal deaths.

All 36 states and Union territories were affected. Himachal Pradesh recorded the highest number of extreme weather events, with 149 days, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 141 days. Kerala and Uttar Pradesh were next with 119 days each.


In terms of events, the break-up was:

Heavy rains, floods and landslides: 208 days

Lightning and storms: 202 days

Heatwaves: 49 days

Coldwaves: 29 days

Cloudbursts: 9 days

Snowfall: 5 days

Cyclones: 2 days

Bihar was the biggest sufferer in terms of deaths – 642 people lost their lives to extreme weather incidents. The largest expanse of affected crop area was in Haryana. Gujarat had the highest number of damaged houses, and Punjab accounted for the maximum number of animal deaths.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Dialogue, Narain pointed out that 2023-24 was a year of ‘polycrisis’ – “a period when we are losing our many, multiple conflicts, among them our war with nature; our war with humans (read Ukraine and Gaza); and our war of control over minerals and technology (where China plays a significant role).”

She added: “We must reinvent the narrative of environmental management. Technological fixes will not be enough. We will need to strengthen our regulatory institutions.”


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