Kerala severely threatened by climate change, says State Action Plan on Climate Change
Alappuzha, Palakkad, Wayanad and Idukki districts are climate change hotspots in Kerala, with a high degree of vulnerability to natural hazards like flood and drought and impact on biodiversity and human life.
The State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) has classified Alappuzha and Palakkad as the most vulnerable districts. Palakkad is listed as very highly vulnerable because of the higher percentage of population relying on agriculture, a lower ranking in the human development index and higher social deprivation. Alappuzha has been included in the same category because of the network of environmentally sensitive wetlands, lagoons and sandy beaches. Idukki, Wayanad, Thiruvananthapuram and Kannur have been listed as highly vulnerable. The two hilly districts are categorised as climate change hotspots because of the large area of dense forest cover and shola forest.
The degree of vulnerability of climate sensitive sectors like agriculture, fisheries and forests, tribal population and low ranking in the human development index were also considered in identifying the hotspots.
Kannur has been included in the high vulnerability list because of the extensive mangrove forests while Thiruvananthapuram makes it to the list because it has registered medium values in terms of all the indicators.
The SAPCC, due to be taken up for implementation this financial year, assesses that Kerala is severely threatened by climate change. The projected climate change scenario estimates that the atmospheric temperature across Kerala will rise by 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2050. The minimum surface temperature in the Western Ghats region may rise by 2 to 4.5 degrees Celsius. The number of rainy days is likely to decrease along the entire western coast including the Western Ghats. Also, it is projected that if the sea level rises by one metre, 169 sq km of the coastal region surrounding Kochi would be inundated.Implementation
The Department of Environment and Climate Change is preparing to implement the SAPCC from this year, Director P. Sreekantan Nair told The Hindu. He said the programmes would be prioritised and implemented in a phased manner. “Discussions are on with NABARD, the funding agency identified by the Global Environment Fund (GEF). We are also trying to find other sources of funds.” Mr. Nair said a monitoring committee would be set up to oversee the implementation of the action plan.
The SAPCC report estimates that paddy production in Kerala would drop by six per cent with each degree rise in temperature. The document says changes in temperature and rainfall would be detrimental to thermo-sensitive crops like cardamom, coffee, tea and black pepper cultivated in the high ranges. The action plan recommends strategies focussing on climate-tailored agricultural management, integrated pest management, improved land use, organic farming, farm mechanisation, water use efficiency, weather forecasting, crop insurance and diversification of agriculture.
In the animal husbandry sector, the report warns that higher temperature and changing rainfall pattern could enhance the spread of vector borne diseases and macro parasites, besides leading to the emergence of new livestock diseases.
It estimates that heat stress and humidity variation could also have a significant association with bacterial, viral and other parasitic infections and animal diseases. Some of the viral diseases such as goat plague may also reappear while the frequency of incidence of mastitis and foot diseases among crossbred cows may increase, the document says.