India among countries to suffer most ‘economic damage’: IPCC report
India will face extreme scenarios resulting from climate change on almost all fronts – from sea level rise to groundwater scarcity, extreme weather conditions to a drop in agricultural production, in addition to increased health risks. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presents this grim picture in the second part of its sixth assessment report released on Monday.
Referring to India as one of the countries that will be most “economically affected” by climate change, the report highlights a risky anomaly of it in the face of both sea level rise and water scarcity. “India is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world in terms of the population that will be affected by sea level rise. By the middle of the century, around 35 million people in India could face to annual coastal flooding, with 45 to 50 million at risk by the end of the century,” says the IPCC Working Group (WG)-II report.
According to studies cited by the IPCC, climate change and increased demand will lead to at least 40% of the Indian population living with water scarcity by 2050, compared to around 33% currently. It is estimated that the Ganges and Brahmaputra river basins will experience increased flooding due to climate change, especially if warming exceeds 1.5 degrees Celsius.
In August last year, WG-I declared a climate emergency and said that under all growth scenarios, the level of global warming would reach 1.5 degrees Celsius. WG-II focuses on the impact of climate change on ecosystems, biodiversity and human communities. For WG-II, 270 authors contributed to the report.
This report conclusively indicates that the world will face multiple unavoidable climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C.
The dual impact of sea level rise and groundwater scarcity will have a direct impact on India’s agricultural sector. One of the chapters of the report indicates that the yields of wheat, pulses, coarse grains and cereals could fall by almost 9 percent by 2050 in the country. In southern India, maize production could decline by 17% if emissions are high. “These disruptions in agricultural production are expected to cause price spikes in India, threatening food accessibility, food security and economic growth.
Continued climate change will also lead to a decline in Indian fisheries,” the report said.
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Climate change is impacting all parts of India, says Anjal Prakash, Research Director, Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business (ISB). “The Himalayas in the north, the coastal areas in the south and the semi-arid region of central India, no part of the country is spared. Urban India is much more at risk with its growing share in the country. Over the next 15 years, we will see 600 million people added to urban spaces,” says Prakash, who is also the lead author of the WG-II chapter on cities.
At the macroeconomic level too, India stands to lose out due to the impact of climate change, according to prudential studies cited in the report. India is economically hardest hit by climate change, with every tonne of carbon dioxide emitted globally costing the country around $86, according to a study cited in the report.
At COP26, the climate change conference in Glasgow last year, India advocated for the establishment of an adaptation fund by the developed world to support the climate risks facing developing economies. development like her. Developed economies, however, have not committed to any separate funds for loss and damage, leading India to issue a rating of “deep disappointment”.
“Developed countries should accept historical responsibility and provide financial resources to developing countries,” India said.
WG-II experts reiterated the need for equitable adaptation across the world to combat the adverse effects of climate change. “While there are adaptation efforts, the impacts are not evenly distributed. India, Bangladesh are the most vulnerable although they are not responsible for climate change. This is why fairness and justice become crucial,” said Rawshan Begum Ara, Visiting Associate Professor at the Center for Corporate Sustainability & Environmental Finance, Macquarie University, Australia, at the conference.