According to IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Third Assessment Report, the average surface temperature is set to rise by 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius between the period of 1990 and 2100. A rise of the ‘global mean temperature’ by more than 2 to 2.4 degree Celsius is seen as the threshold of severe climate change.
Though the impact of impending climate change will be felt globally, India, as an emerging economy particularly, is one of the most vulnerable countries to face its effects. With its vast coastlines, agricultural economy that largely depends on natural resources and about 400 million people still living in poverty, India faces a grim scenario.
The Himalayan glaciers have already started melting at an alarming rate of 34 meters per year (double the rate of 19 meters in 1971) and coastal islands of Sunderbans are already disappearing under water. More islands going under would mean huge displacement of people and resulting increased pressure on land.
The Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR) states that if IPCC’s predicted temperature-rise materializes, India’s GDP could decline by upto 9%. More than 50% of India’s population depends on agriculture for their livelihood, while many more live near the coast and earn from it. Severe and unpredictable weather pattern has already started creating changes in the standard cropping patterns, pushing farmers in the quagmire of debts and hunger. Over the years, there is a serious danger of food production falling by 40%, thus affecting majority of the country.