Titled The Costs of Climate Change in India, the report states that India is already experiencing the consequences of 1 degree C of global warming. India may have already lost 3% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on account of global warming of 1 degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels, and risks losing 10% of its GDP in the extreme scenario of a 3 degree Celsius increase, which would lead to a rise in sea levels, a decline in agricultural productivity, and increased health expenditure, according to a report by London think tank ODI.
Some of the studies cited by the report make direr predictions. Citing a research paper published last year by Oxford Economics, and authored by economist James Nixon, the ODI report says India’s GDP would currently be around 25% higher were it not for the costs of global warming, and predicts that, with 3 degree C of warming it is likely to be 90% lower by the end of the century than it would have been otherwise.
“India is already feeling the costs of climate change, with many cities reporting temperatures above 48 degree C 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 to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degree C, the human and economic toll will rise even higher,” said Angela Picciariello, senior research officer at ODI. Average temperatures across India rose by 0.62 degree C over the last 100 years, rising at a slower rate than the global average, but the impact of the climate crisis is felt almost every year. Between 1985 and 2009, western and southern India saw 50% more heatwave events than in the previous 25 years.
ODI researchers recommend that India set more ambitious CO2 emission mitigation targets. “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. These considerations are shifting domestic narratives around climate change policy, including high-level debates about whether or not to commit to carbon neutrality by mid-century.”
“Stronger emission targets do not need to compromise India’s development aspirations,” the report added. ODI recommends ending public support for coal and improving the performance of electricity distribution systems, supporting economic diversification in regions that heavily depend on coal for jobs and revenues, and focusing on clean energy generation which could create millions of jobs.“Climate disasters can reverse the progress that has been made on reducing poverty and disrupt the lifelines of a growing economy… Investing in green sectors like renewable energy, public transport and land restoration can create new jobs, stimulate economic growth. It can lead to massive savings in fuel costs,” said UlkaKelkar, director, Climate Program at World Resources Institute.