IPCC report forecasts a future of severe weather

Global warming to trigger extreme rain in South India, it says

August 09, 2021 09:52 pm | Updated August 10, 2021 08:45 am IST - NEW DELHI

People under umbrellas walk on a road during rain in Kochi. Photo used for representation purpose only. File

People under umbrellas walk on a road during rain in Kochi. Photo used for representation purpose only. File

The current global warming trends overall are likely to lead an increase in annual mean precipitation over India, with more severe rains expected over southern India in the coming decades, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Sixth Assessment Report , public on Monday.

The planet was irrevocably headed towards warming by 1.5° Celsius over pre-industrial times in the next two decades, according to the most updated scientific consensus from the IPCC .

Keeping global warming below 2° Celsius of pre-industrial levels by the turn of century and endeavouring to limit it to 1.5°C was at the heart of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Unless extremely deep emission cuts were undertaken by all countries immediately, these goals were unlikely to be met. In line with this, the IPCC has recommended that countries strive to achieve net zero emissions — that is, no additional greenhouse gases were emitted — by 2050.

In the most ambitious emissions pathway, the projection is that globe would reach the 1.5°C in the 2030s, overshoot to 1.6°C, with temperatures dropping back down to 1.4°C at the end of the century.


India has not yet committed to a net zero timeline.

The Sixth Assessment Report , has been finalised and approved by 234 authors and 195 governments, and updates the scientific consensus on extreme weather, human attribution, the carbon budget, feedback cycles, and charts the future state of the climate since the 5th Assessment Report of 2014. The 3,000-plus-page report said warming is already accelerating sea level rise and worsening extremes such as heat waves, droughts, floods and storms. Tropical cyclones are getting stronger and wetter, while Arctic sea ice is dwindling in the summer and permafrost is thawing. All of these trends will get worse, the report said.

India is currently the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter, but per capita emissions are much lower. The U.S. emitted nearly 9 times more greenhouse gases per capita than India in 2018. Based on existing commitments by countries to curb their emission, the world is on track for global temperature warming by at least 2.7°C by 2100, predicts the report, calling it ‘Code red for humanity’.

The latest scientific assessment will influence discussions on the Conference of Parties meeting in Glasgow later this year where countries are expected to announce plans and steps they have taken to curb emissions. The report release follows a two-week long plenary session held virtually from July 26 to August 6, 2021, in which the report was scrutinized line-by-line for approval by government representatives in dialogue with report authors.

Impact on India

The report warns that with a 7,517 km coastline, India will face significant threats from rising seas. Across six Indian port cities — Chennai, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Surat and Visakhapatnam — 28.6 million people will be exposed to coastal flooding if sea levels rise 50cm, according to one study that forms part of the IPCC report.

“With warming, we are seeing that there are specially varying patterns of change that are projected over the future. There is intensification of the water cycle, which is going to affect the rainfall patterns... Change in the monsoon precipitation is also expected,” said Dr. Swapna Panickal, Scientist with the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology at Pune and among the authors of the report. “While there isn’t much (scientific) model agreement on the changes in the heavy precipitation events, we can definitely say that hot extremes are projected to increase and cold extremes are projected to decrease in the 21st century,” she said.

Alok Sharma, COP26 President said in a statement: “The science is clear. The impacts of the climate crisis can be seen around the world and if we don’t act now, we will continue to see the worst effects impact lives, livelihoods and natural habitats. Our message to every country, government, business and part of society is simple. The next decade is decisive, follow the science and embrace your responsibility to keep the goal of 1.5C alive. We can do this together, by coming forward with ambitious 2030 emission reduction targets and long-term strategies with a pathway to net zero.”

"Developed Countries have usurped far more than their fair share of the global carbon budget. Reaching net zero alone is not enough, as it is the cumulative emissions up to net zero that determine the temperature that is reached. This has been amply borne out in the IPCC report. It vindicates India’s position that historical cumulative emissions are the source of the climate crisis that the World faces today, " anvironment minister, Bhupendra Yadav, said in a statement.

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