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India gets its first Climate Change Assessment report

  • IASbaba
  • June 17, 2020
  • 0
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ENVIRONMENT/ ECONOMY

Topic: General Studies 3:

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation 
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources 

India gets its first Climate Change Assessment report

Context: The first Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region published by the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).

Findings of the report deal exclusively with India and the sub-continent unlike the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), which is global in nature

Some of the key findings of the report are:

  • Between 1900 and 2018, the average temperatures of India rose by 0.7°C. This rise in temperatures has been largely attributed to global warming due to GHG emissions and land use and land cover changes
  • Overall rainfall during the monsoon season has decreased by 6% between 1950 and 2015.
  • In a worst case scenario, average surface air temperatures over India could rise by up to 4.4oC by the end of the century as compared to the period between 1976 and 2005
  • The rise in temperatures will be even more pronounced in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region where the average could reach 5.2°C
  • By 2100, the frequency of warm days and warm nights might also increase by 55 per cent and 70 per cent respectively, as compared to the period 1976-2005
  • The incidences of heat waves over the country could also increase by 3-4 times.
  • Sea level could rise by 30cm by the end of this century as compared to the recent 2-3 decades.
  • Monsoon rainfall could change by an average of 14% by 2100 that could go as high as 22.5%. The report does not mention if this change will be an increase or a decrease but still represents variability.

Key takeaways from the report

  • Temperature rise in Himalayan region means glaciers and the snow that feeds some of India’s most important perennial rivers receding drastically, with disastrous implications for the northern part of India in terms of floods.
  • The frequency of extreme rainfall in central and southern India—the kind that Kerala has seen of late—is also likely to rise drastically.
  • The report seems to acknowledge that the 1.5oC (rise in global temperature over pre-industrial level) target may no longer be achievable, given how human activity so far has already set the planet on a warming pathway
  • Against such a backdrop, the need for adapting to climate change effects becomes urgent, which is echoed by IPCC report as well

The report also suggests solutions to Climate Change, some of which are

  • More R&D to understand regional variations in climate change effects 
  • Water-harvesting
  • Shifting to sustainable farming
  • Accelerated afforestation efforts
  • Transition to renewables from fossil fuels
  • Carbon taxation
  • Focus on building the climate resilience of the most vulnerable sections of the population

Significance of the report

  • This is the first ever climate change assessment report for India 
  • It gives a clear comprehensive view on the possible future climate change projections, that will be useful for policymakers and academia.
  • This is the first important step where existing projections are put in the context of historical trends in land and ocean temperatures, monsoon rainfall, floods, droughts etc.
  • However, the report doesn’t say anything on the need to get climate action off the ground in developing countries through increased funding from developed nations (This was perhaps outside the scope of the report)

Conclusion

The future assessments will have to start documenting the impacts of changes that have already occurred and the impacts that will be caused by future changes if projections come true

Connecting the dots:

  • Paris Climate deal of 2015 and India’s commitments towards it.

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