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VULNERABILITY AND RESILIENCE OF INDIA TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Written by Talent KAS

Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, Climate Change

Context

  • HSBC’s 2018 Assessment categorised India as the country which is most vulnerable to climate change.
  • Even after repeated scientific warnings, carbon emissions continue to rise in China, the U.S. and India, three of the biggest emitters.

Growth vs Environment

  • Brazil, under its President Jair Bolsonaro, is encouraging unprecedented deforestation of Amazon rainforest under the false pretext of promoting economic growth.
  • Majority of the countries including U.S. and India are also mistakenly thinking that slashing environmental regulations would raise economic growth.
  • Cutting hurdles to investment can boost short term growth and benefit interest groups.
  • But, damaging the environment in this way would be self defeating in today’s fragile ecology, as it would impact long term growth and well-being.

Indian Scenario

  • A number of Indian States have experienced extreme heatwaves in the past three years.
  • Delhi, recently recorded a temperature of 48oC, the hottest day in 21 years.
  • India’s exposure to climate hazards is heightened by the location of its vast coastline in the eye of the storm, across the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
  • These regions also have a high population density.
  • For instance, Kerala which experienced intense floods and landslides in 2018 and 2019, is among the states with highest population density.
  • How badly this exposure will affect lives and livelihoods will depend both on the degrees of vulnerability and resilience to climate change.
  • Increasing temperatures and changing seasonal rainfall patterns are aggravating droughts and hurting agriculture across the country.
  • These events will become more damaging when infrastructure is not resilient.

Building Resilience

  • India is not doing enough to boost its coastal and inland defences to counter the harmful impacts of climate hazards.
  • There is a need to do more to build resilience in the sectors of agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing, energy, transport, health, and education.
  • The priority for spending at the national and state levels for disaster management needs to rise.
  • Adequate resources must also be allocated for implementing climate action plans that most states have prepared.

Why India should take the lead on climate change?

  • Climate change is contributing to prolonged, year-round droughts in parts of Asia and across the world.
  • Increasing heat and changing weather patterns are affecting production and food security in weather-dependent agricultural economies, such as India.
  • In 2017, India experienced over 75 billion total hours of labour lost due to intense heat.
  • This is 48.8% of the total global loss and 7% of India’s total working population.
  • India should be alarmed at ecological destruction even in faraway places like Amazon.
  • As forest fires worsen global warming, the hardest hit by the resulting floods, storms, heatwaves and droughts will be in India.
  • As the country that is most at risk for climate damage, it should lead in pressing the global community to take sweeping climate action.

Way Forward

  • As the sixth largest economy in the world, India’s need for further economic growth is clear.
  • This development will be most effective when coordinated with sustainability and climate action.
  • India must reinforce its infrastructure and adapt its agriculture and Industry.
  • It also needs to replace urgently its fossil fuels with renewable energy.

[Source: The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Reuters]

 

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Talent KAS

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