India's GDP to dip by 2.5 Percent by 2050 due to Changing Weather

GDPIndia has stood firm over the centuries, witnessing the abrasions and corrosions of her rich copious biodiversity, owing to global environmental depletion and climatic exhaustion. But why is it important for one to understand the climatic hazards and environmental deteriorations of India? The answer lies in the vast dependence of the country’s people on its natural resources for survival. An agrarian economy where 18 percent of its GDP and 50 percent of its employment is credited to the agricultural sector, India’s reliance on monsoons and its climate is immense. Moreover, the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in UN’s 2015 climate change talks stated that, “Climate change is not of our making,it is the result of global warming that came from the prosperity and progress of an industrial age powered by fossil fuel. But we in India face its consequences today. We see it in the risks of our farmers, the changes in weather patterns, and the intensity of natural disasters.”

Furthermore, since the world has been experiencing extreme climatic changes over the years like the swelling rates of global warming, cyclones and tectonic shifts (causing earthquakes & Tsunami) India most often faces the repercussions of these disasters. As a result, India has lost a whopping $80 billion – the fifth-highest globally – to climate-related disastersin the last two decades. A UN report goes on to state that climate changes caused more than nine in ten natural disasters between 1988 and 2017, claiming as many as 1.3 million lives. These constant climatic fluctuations cause grave impacts on the country, where even a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also stated that a 2°C rise in temperatures would mean serious consequences for India, including deadly heat waves in big cities, high air pollution levels and saltwater intrusion in coastal areas.

Robert S Ross of Florida State University, who conducted the study along with researchers from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bhubaneswar and India Meteorological Department (IMD), stated, “India, taken as a whole, is experiencing warming as an integral part of the warming that is happening globally due to global climate change.” He went on to add, “The temperature patterns seen in India are likely happening in many parts of the world where the brown haze pollution is being produced. Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is driving global warming, and brown haze pollution is modulating this regionally,” thus indicating that the living standards of nearly half the country’s population will get depressed, affecting its economy. Further, a study by the World Bank indicated,  that due to rising temperatures and changing monsoon rainfall patterns from climate change, India’s gross domestic product (GDP) may dip by 2.8 percent (amounting to $1177.8 billion) by 2050.

Paralleling the crisis, floods in India are becoming an often occurrence, making it the most flood distressed country in the world. These unprecedented incidences disrupt the most vulnerable states in the country leaving over eight million hectares of land affected by it yearly affecting about three percent of the country’s GDP. Extensively, a carbon-intensive climate scenario is likely to impact lives of about 800 million people in South Asia of which 600 million will be in India alone. The affected population reside in areas identified as ‘climate hotspots’ —areas where the impact of climate change on living standards is expected to be the most severe.According to ‘South Asia’s Hotspots: The Impact of Temperature and Precipitation Changes on Living Standards’, almost half of South Asia’s population, including India, now lives in the vulnerable areas and will suffer from declining living standards that could be attributed to falling agricultural yields, lower labor productivity or related health impacts. Some of these areas are already less developed, suffer from poor connectivity and are water stressed.

In tackling these environmental hazards, Narendra Modi stated, “Our commitment to preserving the climate is for the sake of future generations,” and has leaped towards adopting greener methods of handling the environment issues. Major steps taken to reduce carbon emissions include: A commitment to reduce its greenhouse emissions under the Paris Agreement in 2015, to have 40 percent cumulative power capacity from non-fossil fuel based sources by 2030. Expansions towards the use of renewable energy adoption have become the center of these efforts and a five-fold increase in solar installations under the National Solar Mission (to 100 GW) was announced to be achieved by 2022. As a result of these efforts, close to 57 GW was achieved in 2017. India has also partnered with EU to develop action plans on Clean Development and Climate Change which focuses on cooperation in areas of clean technology as well as on adaptation to climate change and the integration of adaptation concerns into sustainable development strategies. The initiative further strengthened the political dialogue on international action to tackle climate change between India and the EU.

Former UN General Secretary, Ban Ki-moon had said back in 2011, “Climate change does not respect borders; it does not respect who you are - rich and poor, small and big. Therefore, this is what we call ‘global challenges’, which require global solidarity”. Paying heed to these wise words it should be kept in mind that prioritizing the self-interests of a single country and neglecting the responsibility towards the entire planet will only bring harm to all. The climate is always changing and always has, but in today’s times humans are the major influencers of this change. It is a mess we got ourselves into and it is our collective duty now to clean it up.

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