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Two-thirds of Indians could see temperature rise by over 2 degrees due to climate change

CLIMATE-CHANGE-indiaThe impact of climate change on India would be more drastic than on many countries, according to a new paper released today by IIM Ahmedabad, IIT Gandhinagar and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

The country would need over $1 trillion from now until 2030 to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, the study added.

Climate change has lowered rainfall in areas such as the western ghats, Gangetic Plain, and central India during the period of 1951-2013, the paper said.

Climate change projections showed that India is projected to experience 1-1.5°C increase in mean annual air temperature in its near term climate, or over the next thirty years.

The study conducted by Prof Amit Garg from IIM Ahmedabad, Prof Vimal Mishra from IIT Gandhinagar and Dr Hem Dholakia from CEEW estimates that as many as 800 million people living across nearly 450 districts in India are currently experiencing significant increases in annual mean temperature going beyond the 2°C warming pathway.

There are 36 districts in India, comprising 5.5% of the total land area and 3.6 cr people, that are on the path to see an increase in air temperature of more than 4°C, while 65 districts could see an increase of 3°C-4°C.

The districts most at risk include Aizawl, Baran, Bhilwara, Bundi, Cachar, Champhai, Chandel, Chittaurgarh, Churachandpur, Dhalai, East Garo Hills and the state of Tripura.

In 346 districts, temperatures are likely to rise by 2°C to 3°C and in the remaining 190, by 2°C.

“On the other hand, multimodel ensemble mean annual air temperature is projected to increase by 2-3 °C by the Mid-21st century.. projections indicate that India is projected to witness substantial increases in night-time temperature and growing degree days, which may have profound implications for agriculture and crop production,” the report added.

Already, the report added, global warming and climate change has increased the number of droughts in India.

“The monsoon season precipitation became more erratic leading to some of the most severe and widespread droughts during the recent decades,” it said. India has had very severe droughts in 2002, 2009, and 2015, the scientific paper pointed out.

“The increased frequency of droughts pose challenges to food security and water management in India. Droughts during the monsoon season of 2015 led to water crisis in many regions of the country (notably Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh).”

India occupies 2.4% of the global land area, supports 17% of the global population and contributes less than 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change adaptation is a key component of the climate negotiations currently ongoing in Paris where 196 countries are negotiating a new pact to tackle climate change and keep global temperature rise in check, below 2°C by the end of the century.

Recognising the importance of the study, Ashok Lavasa, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said, “Supporting and enhancing the sustainable development of 1.25 billion people is at the heart of India’s adaptation gap filling strategy. The fruits of development should not be lost due to increasing adaptation gap in the future.”

India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) submitted in early October reiterated the need for better climate change adaptation by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, Himalayan region, coastal regions, health and disaster management.

You can download the full report here.

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