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As climate change worsens year after year, several countries around the world will get affected by severe impacts. Natural disasters such as droughts, wildfires, floods, storms, famine, etc. will continue to get more intense and frequent. Out of all the countries, the developing and underdeveloped countries will be the ones most affected by climate change. That includes the developing country of India. How will India be affected by climate change?
According to an Oxford University study, India will likely witness the death of 160,000 people per year by 2050 due to decreased food production caused by climate change. India ranks second in the mortality forecast after China. Almost 248,000 people are predicted to die for this reason. The United States ranks fifth in the mortality forecast, after Vietnam and Bangladesh.
India is likely to face severe climate scenarios emerging from climate change on almost all fronts- from warmer temperatures to water shortages, a decrease in crop production, and a rise in health hazards. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presented this data in the second part of its sixth assessment report released last year.
The IPCC report states that India is one of the countries that will be the most ‘economically affected’ by climate change. According to the IPCC’s Working Group III, India is vulnerable in terms of population that will get affected by sea-level rise. Approximately 35 million people in India could face coastal flooding annually by the middle of the century. The Ganga and the Brahmaputra, two critical rivers in India, will likely experience significant flooding events if temperatures exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Global warming and the growing demands of Indians will result in 40 percent of the population living with water scarcity by 2050. Currently, 33 percent of Indians live in areas facing water shortages.
India is currently experiencing warmer temperatures. Due to climate change, temperatures are expected to increase in frequency and cover much more areas. If temperatures rise above or to 4 degrees Celsius, agriculture in India could be severely affected.
According to Anjal Prakash, research director of Bharti Institute of Public Policy, climate change affects every part of India- the Himalayas in the north, the coastal areas in the south, and arid regions in central India. Urban areas in India are at much greater risk as most of the population resides there. In the coming 15 years or so, 600 million people will migrate to towns and cities.
Some regions in India have experienced less rainfall, while some have increasing heavy rainfall. The rise in temperatures will make seasons unpredictable. Abrupt changes in monsoon could precipitate a huge crisis, triggering frequent droughts and flooding. Droughts have severe consequences; they affect half of India’s crop area and lead to a fall in crop production.
The rains feed over 60 percent of agriculture in India. Thus, the country is highly dependent on groundwater. Without climate change, 15 percent of groundwater resources would still be exploited. Climate change and increasing populations will result in decreasing water tables in India.
As mentioned before, India is economically harmed the most by climate change and its effects, with each tonne of carbon emission generated costing the country about $86.
At COP26– climate change conference in Glasgow 2012- India made a case for creating an adaptation fund by the developed countries to support the climate disasters faced by all developing countries. However, developing countries committed to a ‘no separate loss-and-damage fund’, leading to India issuing a note of ‘disappointment’.
India further stated that developed countries should accept their historical responsibility and supply the required financial resources to developing countries.