India is a country that is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, with high climate risk across various sectors. One of the most visible impacts of climate change in India is the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as heat waves, floods, and droughts. These events have severe impacts on the country’s agriculture, water resources, and human health.
India is also home to a large population that is heavily dependent on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods. Changes in precipitation patterns and rising temperatures due to climate change are affecting agricultural yields, causing food shortages and driving up prices.
Climate Change risk in India
According to a Climate Change Vulnerability assessment by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), 27 of 35 states and UTs are highly vulnerable to extreme hydrological and meteorological disasters and their compounded impacts. The analysis also states that India’s western and central zones are more vulnerable to drought-like conditions. The northern and northeastern zones are more vulnerable to extreme flood events. Meanwhile, eastern and southern zones are highly vulnerable to extreme cyclonic events. The eastern and southern zones are also becoming extremely prone to cyclones, floods, and droughts combined.
As per the same assessment, 5 out of 20 Indians are highly vulnerable to all three extreme events and 17 out of 20 are vulnerable to extreme hydrological and meteorological disasters. The analysis also suggests that the Climate Vulnerability Index of Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Bihar are in the high range, making them the five most vulnerable states in India.
A report by the World Bank Group states that India’s average annual mean temperature during 1901-2020 showed an increasing trend of 0.62°C/100 years with a significant increasing trend in maximum temperature of 0.99°C/100 years and a relatively lower increasing trend in minimum temperature of 0.24°C/100 years. There has been a shift in the recent period towards more frequent dry spells and more intense wet spells during the summer monsoon season.
Extreme weather events in India
All these findings are consistent with all the extreme weather events happening in India recently. An assessment of extreme weather events in 2022 by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) reveals that in 2022, India saw extreme weather events on 88% of the days in the first nine months. The country recorded its warmest March and third warmest April in over a century. India saw disasters nearly every day in the first nine months from heat and cold waves, cyclones, and lightning to heavy rain, flood, and landslides. According to the report these disasters claimed 2,755 lives, affected 1.8 million hectares of crop area, destroyed over 416,667 houses, and killed close to 70,000 livestock.
Steps by the government
India has taken steps to address climate change, such as the National Action Plan on Climate Change and the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2070 and 45% by 2030. The National Action Plan on Climate Change was launched in 2008 and since then the country has been relying on this action plan to bring about a change in the situation. The NAPCC has eight core missions that focus on promoting an understanding of climate change, adaptation and mitigation, energy efficiency, and natural resource conservation. In 2019 the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change launched the National Clean Air Programme which aims to reduce the concentration of particulate matter in the range of PM2.5 and PM10 in the atmosphere. The Indian government also plans to get non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030 and meet 50% of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.
As citizens of India, we have numerous options. We can pledge to use as many environmentally friendly products as we can when we operate, consume, and use them. We can slow the rise in temperature by increasing the amount of greenery in our towns, cities, and states by planting as many trees as we can. Individuals can adopt sustainable behaviors to ensure that their consumption of goods and practices causes the least amount of environmental stress.
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