2023 -Earth’s Hottest Year on Record, India Records Devastating Heat and Extreme Weather Events: CSE Report

India Records Highest Number of Extreme Weather Events in 2023, Over 3,200 Lives Lost

The year 2023 etched itself into history as the warmest year on record globally, surpassing the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average by a staggering 1.48 degrees Celsius, according to data presented at the Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) annual Anil Agarwal Dialogue. This alarming trend was accompanied by a record-breaking number of days with global temperatures exceeding 1.5°C, a critical threshold set by the Paris Agreement.

The “State of India’s Environment 2024” report, released at the Dialogue, paints a concerning picture of the impact of climate change within the country. India witnessed its hottest August and September in 122 years, experiencing an extreme weather event almost every single day throughout the year. These events claimed over 3,200 lives, impacted millions of hectares of crops, damaged tens of thousands of homes, and caused the deaths of over 124,000 animals.

The report further highlights that no region in India was spared. Himachal Pradesh bore the brunt of extreme weather events, recording them on 149 days, followed closely by Madhya Pradesh (141 days), Kerala (119 days), and Uttar Pradesh (119 days). Heavy rains, floods, and landslides were the most frequent events, followed closely by lightning and storms. Heatwaves, while less frequent, had a significant impact, particularly in the summer months.

Bihar suffered the most significant loss of life, with over 642 people succumbing to extreme weather incidents. Haryana witnessed the largest area of affected crops, while Gujarat and Punjab reported the highest number of damaged houses and animal deaths, respectively.

Sunita Narain, Director General of CSE, delivered a powerful opening address, drawing attention to the year 2023-24 as a period of “polycrisis.” She emphasized the intertwined nature of contemporary challenges, including the war with nature, the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, and the global competition for resources and technology. She stressed the urgent need to “reinvent the narrative of environmental management” and move beyond solely technological solutions, advocating for strengthened regulatory institutions to address the complex challenges ahead.

The data presented at the Anil Agarwal Dialogue underscores the urgency of tackling climate change and its devastating consequences. India, like many other nations, faces a critical juncture, demanding immediate and comprehensive action to mitigate the impacts of a warming planet and ensure a secure future for its citizens.