India could be hit by a severe heat wave similar to the one in 2015 which killed nearly 2,500 people across the country, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned on Monday.
In a report titled ‘1.5 Health Report’, the IPCC said that Earth’s surface has warmed one degree Celsius — enough to lift oceans and unleash a crescendo of deadly storms, floods and droughts — and is on track toward an unliveable 3C or 4C rise.
The IPCC warned that the current levels of greenhouse gas emissions will warm Earth’s temperature by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius as early as 2030.
If our planet gets warmer by 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, India and Pakistan will be among the countries worst affected.
“At 1.5°C, twice as many megacities (such as Lagos, Nigeria and Shanghai, China) could become heat-stressed, exposing more than 350 million more people to deadly heat by 2050 under midrange population growth,” reads the IPCC report.
“Without considering adaptation options, such as cooling from more reflective roofs, and overall characteristics of urban agglomerations in terms of land use, zoning and building codes (UCCRN, 2018), at 2°C warming, Karachi (Pakistan) and Kolkata (India) could expect annual conditions equivalent to the deadly 2015 heat waves,” the report says.
The IPCC also said that with “limited evidence and medium confidence” that warmer temperatures will have a negative effect on GDP of the worst affected nations and regions.
“Statistically significant reductions in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita growth are projected across much of the African continent, Southeast Asia, India, Brazil and Mexico,” the report reads.
The IPCC also warns that the rise in temperature could potentially expose more than 350 million more people in certain regions to deadly heat stress by 2050.
AK Mehta, additional secretary, ministry of environment, said that India is already facing climate change impacts.
According to Hindustan Times, Mehta said that India will do “whatever we can in our own capacity” to counter the threat from climate change.
“Denying the reality of climate change is not going to help anyone. We will act like a responsible nation,” he was quoted as saying by HT.
The 2015 heat wave wreaked havoc in India, especially in southern states of the country.
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh alone recorded over 2250 deaths, with Khammam in Telangana recording the highest 48 degrees Celsius temperature.
Avoiding global climate chaos will require a major transformation of society and the world economy that is “unprecedented in scale,” the UN said Monday in a landmark report that warns time is running out to avert disaster.
A Summary for Policymakers of the 400-page tome underscores how quickly global warming has outstripped humanity’s attempt to tame it, and outlines paradigm-shift options for avoiding the worst ravages of a climate-addled future.
Before the Paris Agreement was inked in 2015, nearly a decade of scientific research rested on the assumption that 2°C was the guardrail for a climate-safe world.
The IPCC report, however, shows that global warming impacts have come sooner and hit harder than predicted.
A contrasting “pay later” scenario compensates for a high-consumption lifestyle and continued use of fossil fuels with a temporary breaching of the 1.5°C ceiling.
The stakes are especially high for small island states, developing nations in the tropics, and countries with densely-populated delta regions already suffering from rising seas.
“Historians will look back at these findings as one of the defining moments in the course of human affairs.” Limiting global warming to 1.5°C comes with a hefty price tag: some $2.4 trillion (2.1 trillion euros) of investments in the global energy system every year between 2016 and 2035, or about 2.5 percent of world GDP.
That amount, however, must be weighed against the even steeper cost of inaction, the report says.
The IPCC report was timed to feed into the December UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, where world leaders will be under pressure to ramp up national carbon-cutting pledges which — even if fulfilled — would yield and 3C world.
The week-long meeting in Incheon, South Korea — already deep into overtime — deadlocked on Saturday when oil giant Saudi Arabia demanded the deletion of a passage noting the need for global CO2 emissions to decline “well before 2030”.