statesman news service
NEW DELHI, 19 JUNE: An expected two degrees Celsius rise in the world&’s average temperatures over the next few decades will make India&’s summer monsoon highly unpredictable. Shifting rain patterns will leave some areas under water and others without enough water for power generation, irrigation or, in some cases even drinking, says a scientific report commissioned by the World Bank.
Turn Down The Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience, which was globally released today, compares the likely impacts of two degrees Celsius and four degrees Celsius warming on agricultural production, water resources, coastal ecosystems and cities across South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South East Asia. It builds on a 2012 Bank report that concluded the world would warm by four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century if countries did not take concerted action now.
“The future that scientists have envisioned in this report reinforces the fact that climate change hits the poor the hardest and that it could roll back decades of development gains in India,” said Mr Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India. “In order to minimise the impacts of a changing climate, we need to ensure that our cities become climate resilient, that we develop climate-smart agriculture practices, and find innovative ways to improve both energy efficiency and the performance of renewable energies.”
Depicting life in a not-too-distant future shaped by already present warming trends, the new report warns that by the 2040s, India will see a significant reduction in crop yields because of extreme heat. Reduced water availability due to changes in precipitation levels and falling groundwater tables are likely to aggravate the situation in India, where groundwater resources are already at a critical level and about 15 per cent of the country&’s groundwater tables are overexploited.
The report cited Kolkata and Mumbai along with Bangladesh as “potential impact hotspots” threatened by “extreme river floods, more intense tropical cyclones, rising sea levels and very high temperatures”. With South Asia close to the equator, the sub-continent would see much higher rises in sea levels than higher latitudes, with the Maldives confronting the biggest increases of between 100-115 cm, the report noted.
Melting glaciers and loss of snow also pose a significant risk to stable and reliable water resources. Major rivers such as the Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra, depend significantly on snow and glacial melt water, which makes them susceptible to climate-change induced glacier melt and reductions in snowfall.
In collaboration with the government of India, the World Bank is taking steps to build resilience against the impact of the present warming trends, Mr Ruhl said. World Bank-supported projects in Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are helping local communities conserve their watersheds better. This is expected to improve the availability of water for farming and help farmers move to higher-income yielding crops, promote the efficient use of scarce water resources and help communities set up agri-businesses. The Bank is also supporting the development of environmentally sustainable hydropower in India, as well as supporting the National Solar and Energy Efficiency Missions through pilot projects. IFC, the World Bank Group&’s private sector arm, is also working with several Indian companies to build climate smart solutions.