Climate change-induced disasters: India’s climate imperative

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s climate imperative” published in The Hindu on 19th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Disaster and disaster management.

Relevance: Climate change-induced disasters.

News: In the absence of COVID-19, climate change-induced disasters would have been India’s biggest red alert in recent years. The heatwave in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and New Delhi this year; torrential downpours in south India in 2021; and the super cyclone Amphan that battered West Bengal and Odisha in 2020 are symbols of man-made climate change.

Read more: Somit Dasgupta writes: Bonn meet shows slim chance of action on climate change
What is the intensity of climate change-induced disasters in India?

Temperatures over the Indian Ocean have risen by over 1 °C since the 1950s, increasing extreme weather events. India is the fourth worst hit in climate migration.

Heat waves in India have claimed an estimated 17,000 lives since the 1970s. Labour losses from rising heat, by one estimate, could reach ₹1.6 lakh crore annually if global warming exceeds 2°C, with India among the hardest hit.

Read more: India’s monsoon faces climate change. Earth needs a ‘soft path for water’ now
How to mitigate climate change-induced disasters?

Tackling heatwaves: a) The government has to promote agricultural practices which are not water-intensive and support afforestation that has a salutary effect on warming, b) Financial transfers can be targeted to help farmers plant trees and buy equipments, c) Insurance schemes such as weather-based crop insurances can transfer some of the risks of extreme heat faced by industrial, construction and agricultural workers to insurers, d) Climate-resilient agriculture calls for diversification such as, the cultivation of multiple crops on the same farm. There will need to be more localised food production.

Mitigating Floods and storms: a) The Southern States need stronger guidelines to avoid construction in locations with drainages, b) Mapping flood-risk zones to manage vulnerable regions, c) Environment Impact Assessments must be made mandatory for commercial projects, d) Construction of flood-resistant houses like built-in Kerala on pillars.

Preventing landslides and enhancing dam safety: Management of dams can exacerbate glacier lake outbursts and floods. So, India should enforce regulations to stop the building of dams on steep slopes and eco-fragile areas, as well as the dynamiting of hills, sand mining, and quarrying.

At the National and State level: a) India’s share in disaster management should be raised to 2.5% of GDP, b) States should tap into the Union government’s resources, financial and technological, from early warning meteorological systems to centrally sponsored climate schemes, c) MGNREGA funds can be used for climate adaptation in agriculture, waste management and livelihoods, d) States could make a compensatory payment to local self-government resources being used for climate adaptation.

Global steps required: 1) Leading emitters, including India, must move away from fossil fuels, 2) Regulation needs to be tightened and enforced to ensure forest protection while acquiring land.

Read more: Making sense of Assam floods: Why rivers turned violent in the 20th century and how climate change is making them more unpredictable
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