Climate Change : Impact on India

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  • According to United Nations report titled ‘Economic Losses, Poverty and Disasters 1998-2017’, India has suffered whopping $79.5 billion economic loss due to climate-related disasters in last 20 years.


What would be the impact of climate change on India?

Major impacts on India would be:

  1. Impact in coastal areas:
    • Nearly 40 million Indians will be at risk from rising sea levels by 2050, with people in Mumbai and Kolkata having the maximum exposure tocoastal flooding in future due to rapid urbanisation and economic growth, according to a UN environment report.
    • On coastal areashighly exposed to cyclones and typhoons, the poor tend to be more exposed to natural disasters because they live on land open to hazards.
    • Warmer climate, precipitation decline and droughts in most delta regions of India have resulted indrying up of wetlands and severe degradation of ecosystems
  2. Impact on poverty:
    • Multi-dimensional poverty in most developing countries will increase
    • Climate change will slow down economic growth and make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security and “prolong existing andcreate new poverty traps
  3. Impact on Rainfall pattern:
    • India will experience decrease in seasonal mean rainfall and an increase in mean and extreme precipitation during monsoon.
    • This will increase both floods and drought.
    • Freshwater resources will be affected due a combination of climate change and unsustainable practices.
    • A 2°C rise in the world’s average temperatures will make India’s summer monsoon highly unpredictable.
    • At 4°C warming, an extremely wet monsoon that currently has a chance of occurring only once in 100 years is projected to occur every 10 years by the end of the century.
    • An abrupt change in the monsoon could precipitate a major crisis, triggering more frequent droughts as well as greater flooding in large parts of India.
    • India’s northwest coast to the south eastern coastal region could see higher than average rainfall.
    • Dry years are expected to be drier and wet years wetter.  
  4. Impact on Agriculture:
    • There will be large reductions in wheat yield in the Indo-Gangetic plain; and substantial increase in heat stress for rice, affecting yield in the country.
    • Alterations in the flows of the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra rivers could significantly impact irrigation, affecting the amount of food that can be produced in their basins as well as the livelihoods of millions of people
  5. Impact on Health:
    • Temperature variations will lead to outbreak of diseases as well and disturb the already poor health indicators of the country. Frequency of hot days and multiple-day heat waves have increased in past century;Increase in deaths due to heat stress in recent years
    • Possibly causing a rise in Diarrhoea cases and cholera outbreaks, as the cholera bacterium survives longer in saline water.
    • Heat waves are likely to result in a very substantial rise in mortality and death, and injuries from extreme weather events are likely to increase
  6. Impact on Energy Security:
    • The increasing variability and long-term decreases in river flows can pose a major challenge to hydropower plants and increase the risk of physical damage from landslides, flash floods, glacial lake outbursts, and other climate-related natural disasters.
    • Decreases in the availability of water and increases in temperature will pose major risk factors to thermal power generation.
    • Hydro Power projects in Himalayas face flood risk from the formation of new lakes and the expansion of existing ones due to melting glaciers
  7. Impact on Water Security:
    • An increase in variability of monsoon rainfall is expected to increase water shortages in some areas.
    • Studies have found that the threat to water security is very high over central India, along the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats, and in India’s north eastern states.
  8. Migration:
    • Climate change impacts on agriculture and livelihoods can increase the number of climate refugees.



What can be done?

  • Improvements in hydro-meteorological systems for weather forecasting and the installation of flood warning systems can help people move out of harm’s way before a weather-related disaster strikes.
  • Investments in R&D for the development of drought-resistant crops can help reduce some of the negative impacts.
  • Major investments in water storage capacity would be needed to benefit from increased river flows in spring and compensate for lower flows later on
  • Coastal embankments will need to be built where necessary and Coastal Regulation Zone codes enforced strictly.
  • Improvements in irrigation systems, water harvesting techniques, and more-efficient agricultural water management can offset some of these risks.
  • Regional cooperation on water issues will be needed.
  • Crop diversification, more efficient water use, and improved soil management practices, together with the development of drought-resistant crops can help reduce some of the negative impact