India is the world’s fifth most climate-vulnerable country. Our memories of 2020-21 contain grim reminders of the compounded effects of climate change and the costs of our inaction in building climate resilience. Cyclones Tauktae and Yaas ravaged lives and livelihoods on India’s east and west coasts. The floods they caused added to the misery of coastal communities. An analysis by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) suggests that more than 75 per cent of Indian districts are exposed to extreme climate events.

Further, over 40% have experienced climatic disruptions such as a shift from being flood-prone to being drought-prone, or vice-versa. 2021 calls for climate action and as India unlocks, now more than ever, it needs a reality check on the costs of its climate inaction. The clock is ticking – and fast.

CEEW estimates that the direct costs of India’s lack of disaster preparedness in the last two decades amounted to Rs 13.14 lakh crore ($179.5 billion). Extreme climate events in particular have cost India over $99 billion in the last 50 years. A customer data platform (CDP) analysis suggests that such events will likely cost India Inc. Rs7 lakh crore ($100 billion) and Indian banks over Rs 6 lakh crore ($84 billion) in the next five years.

Further, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) projects that inaction in the face of slow-onset events like heat waves will cost India 34 million jobs by 2030. According to a recent University of Chicago study, it could also cause annual industrial revenue losses of 2%…