India may lose 3-10 percent of its annual GDP by the end of the century as a result of climate change, according to a recent paper. The paper, ‘The costs of climate change in India,’ was published by London-based global think tank Overseas Development Institute (ODI) on June 8.
The report looks at the economic cost -- already suffered and future instances -- of rising global temperatures. The report predicts that the country would see a sharp increase in levels of poverty and inequality.
India has seen an increase in temperatures of 0.62 degree Celsius over the last 100 years. While the increase is lower than the global average of one degree Celsius, the country has already felt the effects of climate change, the report stated.
Though India is home to a significant portion of the world’s population, it only contributes to less than 5 percent of global emissions.
“Extreme heatwaves, heavy rainfall, severe flooding, catastrophic storms and rising sea levels are damaging lives, livelihoods and assets across the country. Looking forward, the human and economic costs of climate change will only increase,” the ODI report noted.
The researchers noted that while India has made significant gains in lifting millions out of poverty and boosting living standards, the country is at risk of many more millions falling back into poverty as a direct fallout of climate change.
A combination of factors like rising foodgrain prices, a slump in agricultural wages and a slower rate of economic growth because of global warming could see India’s national poverty rate climbing 3.5 percent by 2040. That would account for an additional five crore people becoming impoverished, something that would not have happened in a world without climate change.
The report added, “Climate change is already slowing the pace of poverty reduction and increasing inequality in India. The districts that have warmed the fastest have seen gross domestic product (GDP) grow on average 56 percent less than those that have warmed the slowest.”
If global temperatures increase by less than two degrees Celsius by 2100, then India is expected to see a reduction of only 2.6 percent annually in its GDP. However, if global temperatures rise up to four degrees Celsius, then the country could see a 13.4 percent reduction in its GDP annually.
The report includes case studies of how climate change may impact the country, including scenarios of widespread flooding in Mumbai and increased deaths due to heatwaves in Ahmedabad.
The paper urged India to adopt a more ambitious climate mitigation standards even as its per capita emissions remain low.
“...there are two compelling reasons for India to set more ambitious mitigation targets for itself and assume a global leadership role on climate change. First, higher levels of global warming will have devastating human and economic costs. Second, a more climate-smart development trajectory would potentially yield a range of benefits, including cleaner air, higher rates of job creation and greater energy, food and water security”
The paper can be accessed through the ODI website.
(Edited by : Shoma)
First Published: IST