Climate change is real and has been impacting communities, societies, nations, and territories in an unprecedented manner reflected not only in losses and damages to infrastructure and other such elements but also in collateral damages including lives and livelihoods, more particularly for the poor and vulnerable. India is no exception to now frequently occurring extreme weather conditions, causing misery and pain. Such a situation and context have been forcing key stakeholders – governments, the private sector, and communities- to rally behind national climate plans and contribute to adaption and mitigation measures through their expertise, financial resources, and communities’ inherent skills.
India is a large and diverse nation that has been hit hard by frequent climatic episodes such as torrential rains, heat waves, severe droughts, flash floods, and lightning causing widespread collateral damages and financial losses. Such events have been causing long-lasting and pronounced damage in communities and regions in far-flung areas and backward regions that lack infrastructure and financial resources and are generally inhabited by the poor and the vulnerable. This type of situation also presents challenges to local authorities in reaching out to these communities and firming estimates of damages, resulting in data deficiency at local levels.
India was among the few countries that started putting in place a comprehensive relief and rescue operation plan initiated after its Tsunami experience in 2007 that devastated the Indian coast, causing widespread damages and losses. After the 2007 Tsunami, India rolled out an integrated rescue and relief operation plan at national and local levels with early warning systems provided for local authorities to prepare in advance and take action to safely evacuate people and save lives. In 2005 a National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was set up to ensure large-scale rescue and relief operations involving the Indian defense forces. India’s private sector has since also been involved in supplying early warning equipment and training poor and vulnerable communities. India has come a long way in being able to put in place systems, plans, technology, resources, and partnerships to avert loss of life, and offer the affected and displaced material financial aid.
Recent climate events particularly flash floods and torrential rains have begun to affect leading commercial city centers. Cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai have recently been badly impacted by flooding, disrupting economic activities and resulting in loss of lives. These cities account for about half of India’s gross national product (GDP) and if such climate events continue to take place and/ or accelerate the national GDP could be affected. There is an urgent need to marshal policies, resources, technology, technical expertise, and community participation to avert and avoid large-scale damage to city infrastructure.
Climate-induced events are already showing their financial impact on the country. For a country the size of India, it’s difficult to arrive at definitive figures about losses and damages (L&D); however, there are broad estimates that put the L&D at a whopping USD 6 trillion between now and 2050. On the other hand, if the current trends of substantial investments in emission-reduction efforts are sustained, the country could yield economic gains of almost USD 11 trillion for India’s economy by 2070, netting a net saving of USD 5 trillion at current estimates.
India’s economy is highly exposed to the damage caused by climate change. Over the next 50 years, the top five industries most impacted by climate-related losses include services, manufacturing, retail and tourism, construction, and transport — these currently account for more than 80% of the country’s gross national product. Climate change is also expected to reduce the reliability of seasonal agricultural output, impacting revenue from the sector which accounts for about 16% of the country’s gross domestic product.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard India Country Manager Pooran Chandra Pandey