by LAUREN CODLING
INDIA would be among countries “highly impacted” by the changing climate, which may cause a higher frequency of droughts, floods and intense heatwaves, an environmental
think-tank cautioned on Monday (8).
Scientists released a report on the risks of rise of global temperatures, warning the world is off-track from keeping the rise under 1.5 degrees celsius. Instead, the planet is headed
Issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the findings have sparked several leading environmentalists to urge for change, claiming action needs to be taken with immediate effect.
The IPCC report noted that risks of a destructive effect would be highest for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, although it stressed that no part of the world will be immune
from rising threats if temperatures rose.
There will be a higher frequency of heatwaves, droughts and floods, as well as more intense tropical cyclones and increased ocean acidification, which would affect India and
cause major disruption, the deputy director of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said.
“Countries like India, with large populations dependent on the agricultural and fishery sectors, would be highly impacted,” Chandra Bhushan said.
CSE suggested India take the lead in forming a global coalition to keep temperature low in order to save “its poor and vulnerable population”.
“Even at a little over 1C warming, India is being battered by the worst climate extremes [and] it is clear that the situation at 1.5C is going to worsen,” the director of CSE, Sunita
Narain, added. “The new report from IPCC is a final warning that we must get our act together – now and quickly.”
Dr NH Ravindranath, from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), agreed that India is one of the most susceptible countries to the changing climate.
Dr Ravindranath, who specialises in forestry, said: “The impacts of climatic change hazards, like droughts and floods, will depend on the exposure [of the population in coastal zones,
drought and flood-prone areas and mountain slopes].
“Since India has a very large population and regions subjected to droughts, floods, and sea
level rise, it is one of the most vulnerable countries.”
If nothing changes, one of the authors of the IPCC report claimed, the world would be vastly different to the one we live in today. Missing the goal would affect efforts to achieve global sustainable development goals aimed at everything from slashing poverty and hunger to providing clean, affordable energy to all.
“The world we know today is not the world we will see in 50 years [if global warming exceeds 1.5C],” author Debora Ley said. “It will be considerably worse.”
In India, for instance, late monsoons and rain falling in the harvest season in states such as Punjab and Madhya Pradesh have led to crop losses as high as 50 per cent, said Joyashree Roy, a report author and economics professor at India’s Jadavpur University.
Farmers could once recover from losses – but as they become more frequent, that is getting harder to do, she said.
“If it happens within three years again, then they are unable to cope, so they are in a series of indebtedness,” she said.
Other potential deadly effects on south Asia if temperatures reach 2C include a rise in vector borne diseases such as malaria and megacities becoming more exposed to deadly heatwaves by 2050, affecting millions of people.
Affecting other parts across the world, the report also predicted coral reefs would be completely wiped out and global sea levels would rise around 10cm if temperatures
rose to two degrees celsius.
Keeping to 1.5C would mean that 10 million fewer people would be in danger of the risks of
Focusing on four key global sectors, the report entitled Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees has said there must be significant changes in energy, land use, cities and industry to fight climate change.
To keep the temperature down, scientists have recommended several points, so we can stay at 1.5C.
These suggestions include reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 from the 2010 levels; using up to seven million sq. km of land to sustain energy crops, and reaching global net zero emissions by 2050.
“Though it will be very difficult in the current global economic system to limit warming to 1.5C, it is not impossible. This will require acting on all fronts to rapidly reduce emissions by 2030,” Bhushan said.
However, he highlighted that the US’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in 2017 would
have negative consequences on efforts made.
“Without an active participation of the US, this will be impossible,” he said. “In totality, how
the rest of the world handles the climate rogue behaviour of the Trump administration will decide whether the world meets the 1.5C goal or not.”
US president Donald Trump announced in 2017 that the nation would be pulling out of the
Paris Agreement, a commitment submitted by 195 nations in 2015 aiming to cut down carbon dioxide emissions. This withdrawal cannot be confirmed before 2020 according
to the terms of the agreement.
However, the report claimed the commitments put forward by the Paris Agreement would still fail to keep the rise in global temperatures under 1.5 degrees celsius, even if fully met.
If no conscious efforts are made to tackle the issue, it is predicted global warming is likely to reach 1.5C between 2030 and 2052.
Requested by governments, the IPCC research was issued ahead of a UN conference in December in Poland which will consider how to increase country ambitions to cut emissions and manage climate risks better.