- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors.
- GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
IPCC New Climate Report
Context: The latest warnings have come in the second part of IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report which talks about climate change impacts, risks and vulnerabilities, and adaptation options.
- The first part report was released in August 2021 and third (final part of the report) is expected to come out in April 2022.
- The Assessment Reports, the first of which had come out in 1990, are the most comprehensive evaluations of the state of the earth’s climate.
- The four subsequent reports were released in 1995, 2001, 2007 and 2015 which have formed the basis of the global response to Climate Change.
- The Paris Agreement, negotiated on the basis of the Fifth Assessment Report, seeks to keep the rise in global temperatures “well below” 2°C from pre-industrial times, while “pursuing efforts” to limit it to 1.5°C.
- These reports, on their own, are not policy prescriptive: They do not tell countries or governments what to do. They are only meant to present factual situations with as much scientific evidence as is possible.
What does the latest IPCC report say?
- Sectoral & Regional Assessment: The latest report has for the first time, made an assessment of regional and sectoral impacts of climate change.
- Granular information: It has included risks and vulnerabilities of, mega-cities around the world. For example, it has said Mumbai is at high risk of sea-level rise and flooding, while Ahmedabad faces serious danger of heat-waves.
- Health Impact: Also for the first time, the IPCC report has looked at the health impacts of climate change. It has found that climate change is increasing vector-borne and water-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue, particularly in sub-tropical regions of Asia.
- It has also said deaths related to circulatory, respiratory, diabetic and infectious diseases, as well as infant mortality, are likely to increase with a rise in temperature.
- Inadequate action: It points out that the rise in weather and climate extremes has led to some irreversible impacts as natural and human systems are pushed beyond their ability to adapt. Also, most of the targets that countries have set for themselves are too far in the future to have an impact in the short term.
- Urgency of Adaptation: The report has said that while strong actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the near term, in the next 20 years, would substantially reduce the threats, and the projected damages, they would not eliminate them all. The need to take adaptation measures is therefore very important, the report has stressed.
Why has IPCC stressed on adaptation?
- Climate change adaptation means altering our behavior, systems, and—in some cases—ways of life to protect our families, our economies, and the environment in which we live from the impacts of climate change.
- The report has said the gaps in adaptation was a result of lack of funds and political commitment, and also the absence of reliable information and a sense of urgency.
- It has pointed out that there were “feasible and effective” adaptation but the effectiveness of these options decreases sharply with further increases in temperature.
- Adaptation is essential to reduce harm, but if it is to be effective, it must go hand in hand with ambitious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions
IPCC report and India
- Noting that over 3.5 billion people, over 45% of the global population, were living in areas highly vulnerable to climate change, the report identifies India as one of the vulnerable hotspots.
- Lucknow and Patna are among the cities predicted to reach wet-bulb temperatures – an index of the impact of heat and humidity combined – of 35°C while Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Mumbai, Indore, and Ahmedabad are at risk of reaching wet-bulb temperatures of 32°C-34°C with continued emissions. This will have consequences such as a rise in heat-wave linked deaths or reduced productivity.
- Extreme weather led to cereal production loss of 9-10 % (1964-2007). In India, rice production may decrease 30% and maize production will decrease 70%, if global warming over pre-industrial levels rises to 4°C from 1°C, the IPCC analysis found.
- With higher emissions, and if ice sheets collapse more quickly than expected, sea levels could rise as much as 2 metres this century and 5m by 2150. India is one of the most vulnerable countries in terms of the population that will be affected by sea-level rise.
- By the middle of the century, around 35 million of its people could face annual coastal flooding, with 45 million-50 million at risk by the end of the century if emissions are high.
Connecting the dots:
- IPCC’s Sixth report (First part) on Climate Change & India
- Paris Climate Deal: India’s Progress, Pandemic and Challenges