India is one of the most vulnerable countries globally in terms of population that will be affected by sea-level rise, highlights IPCC which released the second phase of its sixth assessment report yesterday.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that the Ganga basin is likely to face severe water shortage by 2050, Mumbai is at high risk from flooding and sea-level rise, and Ahmedabad is at danger from urban heat island effect. The report noted that mass mortality events on land and ocean, the first climate-driven extinctions, death and disease due to extreme heat – the climate crisis has already resulted in some irreversible changes.
“Observed impacts are concentrated among the economically and socially marginalized urban residents. Infrastructure, including transportation, water sanitation and energy systems have been compromised by extreme and slow on-set events, with resulting economic losses, disruption of services and impacts on well-being,” the report said. “Globally, heat and humidity will create conditions beyond human tolerance if emissions are not rapidly eliminated- India is among the places that will experience these intolerable conditions.”
Professor Anjal Prakash, one of the lead authors of this report, outlined that urban India is at a greater risk than other areas with a projected population of 877 million by 2050, nearly double of 480 million in 2020. “Currently, urbanization in the country is at 35%, which is likely to increase to 40% in the next 15 years. Mega cities are growing faster, and even smaller centers are growing rapidly. Simply the concentration of population in these cities make these settlements extremely vulnerable to climate change.”
Moreover, the report warns of a high risk of widespread biodiversity loss with massive impacts on kelp and seagrass ecosystems, and high to very high impact in Arctic sea-ice and terrestrial ecosystems and warm-water coral reefs. Accelerating sea-level rise will encroach on coastal infrastructure causing low-lying coastal ecosystems to submerge. The report highlighted that even if global mean temperature rises transiently, overshooting the 1.5C threshold, and there will be widespread and irreversible impacts on polar, mountain and coastal ecosystems due to glacier melt and sea-level rise.
Hoesung Lee, the chair of IPCC, described the report as a dire warning about the consequences of inaction. “It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our well-being and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”