The climate emergency will have a catastrophic human and economic impact on India. Different threats will lead to devastating effect, as exemplified by cyclones Tauktae and Yaas during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A new review is done by the global think tank, ODI and is titled as The costs of climate change in India, which was released on Tuesday. It has laid out how rising temperatures will jeopardise India’s economic development through different channels, including falling agriculture productivity, impact to public health, reduced labour productivity and sea-level rise.
The study is a first-ever literature review on the economic costs of climate inaction in India. At one degree Celsius of global warming, the country is already experiencing damages. Flooding in India over the last decade caused $3 billion in economic damage—accounting for 10% of global economic losses from flooding.
The evidence clearly demonstrates that the human and economic costs of climate change will only increase in the coming years, particularly without urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One study finds that India’s GDP in the year 2100 will be reduced by 90 per cent if the world reaches three degrees Celsius of warming.
Angela Picciariello, Senior Research Officer at ODI, said, “India is already feeling the costs of climate change, with many cities reporting temperatures above 48 degrees in 2020 and a billion people facing severe water scarcity for at least a month of the year.
“If action is not taken to cut emissions enough to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the human and economic toll will rise even higher.”
The total cost of heatwaves, flooding, water scarcity, cyclones, sea-level rise and other climate-related hazards will be determined by the direction and level of economic development; the choices made in spatial planning and infrastructure investment; and the way different hazards intersect.
Amir Bazaz, Senior Lead-Practice at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, said: “As we are seeing now with Cyclones Tauktae and Yaas, low-income and other marginalised groups are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. They often live in dense settlements that lack basic services and infrastructure that could reduce risk.
“Many households also live on hazardous sites such as steep slopes and floodplains. It is, therefore, crucial to bring climate and development goals together.”
The study found that India’s GDP would be around 25 per cent higher today, were it not for the current costs of global warming. Looking forward, the numbers are even grimmer.
Researchers have assessed different mechanisms through which climate change will affect India’s economy, and predict that GDP in 2100 could be reduced by 10 per cent at three degrees Celsius of global warming due to declining agricultural productivity,…