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Climate Change Tracker: India's first ever climate change assessment

The Indian government has prepared the first ever national report on the climate crisis, and it makes for grim reading

Sea levels around India are rising 3-5cm every decade.
Sea levels around India are rising 3-5cm every decade. (Getty Images)

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For the first time, India has released its own national report on the state of the climate crisis. Prepared under the aegis of the ministry of earth sciences (MoES), the report, Assessment Of Climate Change Over The Indian Region, takes a close look at where we stand regarding long-term changes in climate patterns, and their attendant risks.

The big revelation is that India’s average temperature has increased by 0.7 degrees Celsius between 1901-2018, and that this is purely due to the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). The report further states that in a best-case scenario of immediate mitigation of emissions, India’s temperature will still rise by 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2099. The worst-case scenario sees a rise of 4.4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Given the recent cyclones, it is instructive to learn that the sea level near Mumbai is rising at the rate of 3cm per decade. Off the Bengal coast, it’s 5cm per decade. Surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean (including the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) have risen by 1 degree Celsius between 1951-2015, higher than the global average. When it comes to the monsoon, the report establishes that precipitation over north India has decreased by 6% (1951-2015) due to the polluting aerosol “brown cloud”. Overall, the monsoon is expected to become more extreme over the coming decades, with longer dry spells alternating with very heavy rain.

Climate change-induced heatwaves often slip under the radar. The report points out that April-June heatwaves will become four times more frequent by 2099 (compared to 1976-2005), and their duration might also double.

Overall, the report reiterates many of the things noted in earlier reports, like those from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, a national report that doesn’t mince words is welcome. After all, the grim truth is that India is on its way to becoming uninhabitable, very fast. And the only way to prevent this is by fast-tracking efforts to beat the dependence on fossil fuel-intensive energy.

Follow the Climate Change Tracker with #MintClimateTracker. Click here to listen to the latest episode of the Mint Climate Change Tracker hosted by Bibek Bhattacharya

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