Climate Change Could Shave off 2.8% of India’s GDP by 2050: World Bank

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A World Bank report said that climate change could cost India 2.8% of GDP, and depress living standards of nearly half of its population by 2050, as average annual temperatures are expected to rise by 1-2 % in over three decades. The report was titled ‘South Asia’s Hotspots: The Impact of Temperature and Precipitation Changes on Living Standards’.

Average temperatures in India are predicted to increase by 1.5-3 degrees, if no measures are taken. In a country where over 75% of the population is dependent on agriculture, falling yields from climate change would lead to a decline in living standards for agriculture-dependent households, while the effect on people’s health would worsen the overall impact.

For the region, it has found that India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be adversely affected by these changes, while Afghanistan and Nepal will benefit as they are relatively cold. Based on the rise in average temperatures over the past six decades and the projected rise, the report predicts more warming inland and less warming in coastal areas beyond 2050.

In India, around 600 million people live in locations that could either become moderate to severe hotspots by 2050 under a business-as-usual scenario, where the living standards would be most affected, identifying states in the central, northern and north-western parts as most vulnerable to changes in average temperature and precipitation.

By 2050, the top two climate hotspots are predicted to be Low-income states such as Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, which are also home to large tribal populations, that are likely to experience a decline of over 9% in their living standards. These two are followed by Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra. Cities like Kolkata and Mumbai face a substantial risk of flood-related damage over the next century.

The report looks at two scenarios: climate-sensitive and carbon-intensive. Climate-sensitive represents a future “in which some collective action is taken to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon-intensive, on the other hand, represents a future in which no actions are taken to reduce emissions 

To reduce the rising risk to living standards, the report suggests enhancing educational attainment, reducing water stress and improving job opportunities in the non-agricultural sectors. It also predicts that a 30% improvement on these measures could halt the decline in living standards by almost 1%  from 2.8 to 1.9%.