India among countries that will be most 'economically harmed': IPCC report

2022.03.07

India will face extreme scenarios emerging from climate change on almost all fronts — from rising sea levels to groundwater scarcity, from extreme weather patterns to a fall in crop production, besides a rise in health hazards. 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 harmed” by climate change, the report highlights a risky anomaly of it facing both rising sea levels and water scarcity. “India is one of the most vulnerable countries globally 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 annual coastal flooding, with 45-50 million at risk by the end of the century,” says the report by the IPCC Working Group (WG)-II.

According to the studies cited by the IPCC, climate change and rising demand would lead to at least 40 per cent of the Indian population living with water scarcity by 2050 compared with about 33 per cent now. It is estimated that both the Ganges and Brahmaputra river basins will witness increased flooding as a result of climate change, particularly if warming crosses 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In August last year, the WG-I had declared a climate emergency and said that under all growth scenarios, the planet’s warming level will touch 1.5 degree Celsius. The 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 says that the world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C.

The dual impact of rising sea levels and ground water scarcity will have a direct impact on the Indian agriculture sector. One of the chapters in the report says that wheat, pulses, coarse and cereal yields could fall almost 9 per cent by 2050 in the country. In South India, maize production could decrease 17 per cent if emissions are high. “These disruptions to crop production are expected to cause price spikes in India, threatening food affordability, food security and economic growth.

Continued climate change will also cause decline in India’s fisheries,” says the report.

Read more here.

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