Deadly Heatwaves Could Hit India: Climate Change Report

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the impacts and costs of 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming will be much more than expected. India could face an annual threat of deadly heatwaves, like the one in 2015 that killed at least 2,500 people, f the world gets warmer by 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.

The implications of the report will be discussed at the Katowice climate change conference in Poland this December, where governments will review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

To keep the temperature rise of the earth below 1.5 degree – from pre-industrial level- is possible but the pledges taken by world nations to combat global warming in the Paris agreement aren’t enough to achieve this goal. To reduce carbon emission to “net zero”, not just government but every individual will have to make his or her lifestyle less carbon intensive to save the earth. These are the clear lessons emerging from the special report of IPCC which was released in South Korea.

The rising temperatures are a concern for all nations, but especially developing countries like India that have fewer resources to combat climate change and a large percentage of the population under the poverty line. India is also worried because the erratic weather pattern induced by climate change is causing drought, excessive rains and sea level rise. The report not only exhorts nations for enhanced commitments made in the historic Paris agreement signed in 2015 to stop global warming but it also points out that individual lifestyle will be crucial to keep the rising temperature below the threatening level.

While in India millions of people still don’t have the access to electricity, the lifestyle of people living US and European countries is profligate. The per capita consumption of electricity of U.S. is more than thirty times than in India or more than 60 times than Nigeria. World Bank data released in 2011 tells us that while in U.S., 786 people own a car in every 1000, in India and Bangladesh the figure was just 18 and three respectively. Ironically, United States has not only withdrawn from the Paris agreement of 2015 but it also did not endorse the special report of IPCC.

India is home to thousands of large and small glaciers and it has vast coastline spread along 7500 kilometres. More than 250 million people live in coastal districts and most of them depend on the seashore for their livelihood. According to the report, renewable energy would need to supply 70% to 85% of electricity by 2050, as against the current 25%. Measures to limit global warming to 1.5°C would require far-reaching and rapid transitions in urban, infrastructure, energy and industrial systems, the IPCC said.