India suffered income loss of $159 billion in key sectors due to extreme heat in 2021: Report

Between 2016–2021, extreme events triggered by climate change caused damage to crops in over 36 million hectares, and a $3.75 billion loss for farmers in the country

October 20, 2022 04:53 pm | Updated 04:53 pm IST - New Delhi:

A farmer harvests paddy in a field during harvest season in South Kashmir. Image for representation.

A farmer harvests paddy in a field during harvest season in South Kashmir. Image for representation. | Photo Credit: PTI

India suffered an income loss of $159 billion, 5.4% of its gross domestic product, in the service, manufacturing, agriculture, and construction sectors due to extreme heat in 2021, according to a new report.  

Heat exposure in the country led to the loss of 167 billion potential labour hours, a 39% increase from 1990–1999, said the Climate Transparency Report 2022 compiled by an international partnership of organisations.

Labour productivity in India is projected to decline by 5% from the 1986–2006 reference period if global temperatures increase by 1.5°C, it said.

The decline in labour productivity will be 2.1 times more if the global temperatures increase by 2.5°C, and 2.7 times at a 3°C scenario.

Between 2016–2021, extreme events such as cyclones, flash floods, floods, and landslides caused damage to crops in over 36 million hectares, a $3.75 billion loss for farmers in the country, the report said.  The annual damage from river flooding in the country is likely to increase by around 49% at 1.5°C of warming. The damage from cyclones will increase by 5.7%.

“The annual expected damage from tropical cyclones and river flooding at 3°C is 4.6 to 5.1 times that from 1.5°C,” the report read.

“Precipitation is projected to increase by 6% from the reference period of 1986–2006, at 1.5°C of warming. Under a 3°C warming scenario, precipitation will increase by three times the precipitation anticipated at 1.5°C of warming,” it said. 

The rainfall pattern in India has changed in the past 30 years, impacting many economic activities such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries.  “Snowfall in India is expected to decrease under 1.5°C scenario by 13% when compared with the reference period’s snowfall levels. At 3°C of warming, the decrease is expected to be 2.4 times the 1.5°C scenario,” the report said.

Earth’s global surface temperature has increased by around 1.1° C compared with the average in 1850–1900. 

To address climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015 to limit global temperature rise in this century to well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels.

Suruchi Bhadwal, director for earth science and climate change at The Energy and Resources Institute, said, “Extreme weather events in our regions have shown that the effects of climate change are increasing, and more and more people are being affected.”

“The need to transform our energy systems is obvious, which will also require the support of rich countries whose per capita emissions are much higher than India’s,” she said.

The impacts of climate change are already being experienced with an increase in the extreme weather events with more and more people and infrastructure affected, Ms. Bhadwal said.

“The need to transform our energy systems is obvious, requiring support for technology/best practice development, deployment at scales,” she said.

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