Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Need for political will to tackle climate change

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IPCC

Mains level : Paper 3- IPCC sixth assessment report

Context

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released on Monday its sixth assessment report.

Bleak assessment of our future

  • In its sixth assessment report, titled ‘Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’, the IPCC discusses the increasing extreme heat, rising oceans, melting glaciers, falling agricultural productivity, resultant food shortages and increase in diseases like dengue and zika.
  • Failed climate leadership: Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General, quoted in The New York Times, describes the IPCC report as being “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.”
  • The IPCC warns that should our planet get warmer than 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times (we are at 1.1 degrees at present), then there will be irreversible impact on “ecosystems with low resilience” such as polar, mountain and coastal ecosystems “impacted by glacier melt, and higher sea level rise”.
  • This will cause devastation to “infrastructure in low-lying coastal settlements, associated livelihoods and even erosion of cultural and spiritual values.”
  • The increased heat will lead to an increase in diseases like diabetes, circulatory and respiratory conditions, as well as mental health challenges.

Impact on India

  • Climate “maladaptation”: The IPCC also highlights that climate “maladaptation” will especially affect “marginalised and vulnerable groups adversely, indigenous people, ethnic minorities, low-income households and informal settlements” and those in rural areas.
  • Therefore, India, with a majority of its people falling in these categories, will be especially devastated.
  • The IPCC highlights India as a vulnerable hotspot, with several regions and cities facing climate change phenomena like flooding, sea-level rise and heatwaves.
  • For instance, Mumbai is at high risk of sea-level rise and flooding, and Ahmedabad faces the danger of heat waves — these phenomena are already underway in both cities.
  • Vector-borne and water-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue will be on the rise in sub-tropical regions, like parts of Punjab, Assam and Rajasthan.
  • When the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, the grains we consume, including wheat and rice, will have diminished nutritional quality.
  • Over the past 30 years, major crop yields have decreased by 4-10 per cent globally due to climate change.
  • Consequently, India, which continues to be predominantly agrarian, is likely to be especially hurt.
  • Urban India is at greater risk than other areas with a projected population of 877 million by 2050 nearly double of 480 million in 2020.
  • The concentration of population in these cities will make them extremely vulnerable to climate change.

Conclusion

Fighting climate change requires fiscal expenditure and policy changes fuelled by political will, which will reap results in a decade or so. Yet, our political class has no cohesive and urgent policy roadmap to combat rising emissions and our diminishing life spans.

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