Labour losses due to rising heat: India among the most affected, finds study

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What is the news?

Rising heat and humidity due to global warming has prompted major loss in labour hours across the globe. India is one of the worst affected countries, according to a new study led by Duke University researchers.

This is the first study at the global scale assessing how effective it is to move heavy work to the cooler parts of the day as an adaptation to climate change.

What are the key findings of the report?

As heat and humidity levels rise because of climate change, options for moving outdoor labour to cooler hours will dramatically shrink, leading to significant worldwide labour losses.

The economic losses associated with this lost productivity could reach up to $1.6 trillion (Rs 1.6 lakh crores) annually if warming exceeds an additional 2oC relative to the present.

An increase in heat stress resulting from global warming is projected to lead to global productivity losses equivalent to 80 million full-time jobs 2030, according to International Labour Organization (ILO).

Labour losses from heat exposure are spatially variable, with several countries in southwest Asia, South Asia and Africa that already experience per-capita, 12-hour workday labour losses.

India, China, Pakistan and Indonesia — where larger fractions of the population work outdoors — will experience the biggest losses overall.

Critical jobs, such as agricultural work and construction work, will become almost impossible to perform safely during afternoon hours in the summer in many places.

If we limit warming to within another degree of current levels, we can still avoid most worker productivity losses by moving heavy labour to the early morning hours.

Source: This post is based on the article “Labour losses due to rising heat: India among the most affected, finds study” published in The Down to Earth on 21st Dec 2021.

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