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If emissions not cut, India may see unsurvivable heat, food scarcity: IPCC

From heat passing the limits of human survivability, food and water scarcity, higher sea levels to severe economic damage, India will be seriously harmed if emissions are not cut, IPCC report warned


Press Trust of India New Delhi
From heat passing the limits of human survivability, food and water scarcity, higher sea levels to severe economic damage, India will be seriously harmed if emissions are not cut, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in its latest report released on Monday.
The second instalment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II report on 'Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability' said that globally, heat and humidity will create conditions beyond human tolerance if emissions are not rapidly eliminated and that India is among the places that will experience these intolerable conditions.
The report cautioned that climate-related risks to agriculture and food systems in Asia will progressively escalate with the changing climate, with differentiated impacts across the region.
In India, rice production can decrease from 10 to 30 per cent whereas maize production can decrease from 25 to 70 per cent assuming a range of temperature increase from 1 degree Celsius to 4 degree Celsius, it said.
Referring to wet-bulb temperatures, a measure that combines heat and humidity, the report warned that if emissions continue to rise, wet-bulb temperatures will approach or exceed the unsurvivable limit of 35 degrees C over much of India, with the majority of the country reaching wet-bulb temperatures of 31 degrees C or more.
A wet-bulb temperature of 31 degrees C is extremely dangerous for humans, while a value of 35 degrees C is unsurvivable for more than about six hours, even for fit and healthy adults resting in the shade.
Currently, wet-bulb temperatures in India rarely exceed 31 degree C, with most of the country experiencing maximum wet-bulb temperatures of 25-30 degree C," said the IPCC report.
The report said that both climatic and non-climatic drivers such as socio-economic changes have created water stress conditions in both water supply and demand in all sub-regions of Asia.
By mid-21st Century, the international transboundary river basins of Amu Darya, Indus, Ganges and inter-state Sabarmati-river basin in India could face severe water scarcity challenges with climate change acting as a stress multiplier. Due to global warming Asian countries could experience an increase of drought conditions (5-20 per cent) by the end of this century, it said.
According to the report, temperature, relative humidity, and rainfall variables are significantly and positively associated with increased dengue cases or transmission rates globally, including in India.
It said that increased exposure to carcinogenic toxins via multiple pathways is also a concern.
Aflatoxin (carcinogen) exposure, for example, is expected to increase in Europe, India, Africa and North America. Other carcinogenic toxins originate from cyanobacteria blooms which are projected to increase in frequency and distribution with climate change, the report said.
In India, projected scenarios for the 2030s indicate changes in the spatial distribution of malaria, with new foci and potential outbreaks in the Himalayan region, southern and eastern states, and an overall increase in months suitable for transmission overall, with some other areas experiencing a reduction in transmission months, the report said.
Warning about the sea level rise, the report said that 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 if emissions are high, with far fewer at risk if emissions are lower, it said.
According to the report, high levels of warming could cause a global GDP decline of 10-23 per cent by the end of the century, compared to a world without warming.
Several major economies could see even larger economic declines because of climate change, with a study cited in the report estimating GDP losses by the end of the century of up to 42 per cent in China and 92 per cent in India, if emissions are high.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Feb 28 2022 | 6:28 PM IST

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