Changing Weather Will Affect Living Standards of Half of India’s Population

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By Richard Mahapatra
NEW DELHI, Mar 27 2019 – The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on January 16 declared that 2018 was the sixth- warmest year in the last 117 years or since 1901, when recording started. Pointing towards changing weather and climate parameters, it also noted that the last monsoon rainfall was the sixth-lowest since 1901.

“The 2018 annual mean land surface air temperature for the country was +0.41°C above the 1981-2010 average, thus making 2018 the sixth-warmest year on record since 1901,” said a release from IMD.

That India is witnessing consistent warmer seasons is clear from the IMD’s analysis that pointed out that 11 out of 15 warmest years were in the last 15 years (2002-2018). The last year was also the consecutive third-warmest year after 2016 and 2017.

“The past decade (2001-2010/2009-2018) was also the warmest on record, with anomalies of 0.23°C/0.37°C. The annual mean temperature during 1901-2018 showed an increasing trend of 0.6°C/100 years, with a significant increasing trend in maximum temperature (1.0°C/100 years), and relatively lower increasing trend (0.2°C/100 years) in minimum temperature,” said IMD.

Climate change impacts are likely to lower the living standards of nearly half of India’s population, says a new World Bank report.

According to the report titled ‘South Asia’s Hotspots: Impacts of Temperature and Precipitation Changes on Living Standards’, rising temperatures and erratic rainfall pattern could cost India 2.8 per cent of its GDP.

It says that almost half of South Asia, including India, lives in vulnerable areas and will suffer from declining living standards.

Approximately 60 crore Indians live in areas where changes in average temperature and precipitation will negatively impact living standards. These areas, called hotspots, were identified using spatial granular climate and household data analysis.

The analysis was done for two scenarios—one indicating a pathway where climate change mitigating actions were taken and the other where current trends of carbon emissions continued.

“We have attempted to identify how climate change will affect household consumption, and that is the basis of the estimation and hotspot mapping. The granular data is from the household level, which is aggregated to give larger level analyses at block, district, state and country levels,” Muthukumara Mani, lead economist, World Bank South Asia region told Down To Earth.

A warming trend is now witnessed in all seasons including the winter (January-February). “The country averaged season mean temperatures during all the four seasons, with the winter season (January-February, +0.59°C) being the 5th warmest since 1901 and the pre-monsoon season (March-May, with an anomaly of +0.55°C above average) being the 7th warmest ever since 1901,” said IMD.

Similarly, there is a declining trend for the monsoon as well. “The 2018 Northeast monsoon season (October-December) rainfall over the country as a whole was substantially below normal (56 per cent of LPA, 1951-2000 average). This was 6th lowest since 1901,” reported the IMD release.