A new study predicts climate change to worsen India’s farm crisis and income inequality

According to the report released by Climate Action Tracker , a consortium of three research organisations that analyse climate-change policies of 32 countries, the earth will get 3°C warmer by 2100, twice the 1.5°C limit agreed upon in the Paris Agreement of 2015. The report was released on December 11, 2018, in the recently concluded 24th Conference of Parties or COP24 of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change.

India is the 14th most vulnerable country to impacts of climate change; 2,726 people died in India in 2017 because of extreme-weather events. And such casualties are expected to rise in the future. Around 44.8% of India’s current population (600 million) live today in locations that could become moderate or severe climate hotspots by 2050 if climate change efforts remain at current levels, said a June World Bank report titled “South Asia’s Hotspots : Impacts of Temperature and Precipitation Changes on Living Standards”. By 2050, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh will be the top two climate hotspots and the living standards in these states will reduce by 9%, predicted the report. Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra take up the other three places in the top five.

India will witness two contrasting trends in the future: There will be more extreme rainfall which will lead to floods and a weaker monsoon which will lead to less rainfall over central India, said the report by Climate Trends. Such erratic rainfall patterns will affect the food security in the country where 56% of the farms are unirrigated. A 1°C rise in temperature reduces farmer incomes by 6.2% during the kharif (winter) season and 6% during rabi (monsoon) season in unirrigated districts, IndiaSpend had reported on March 22, 2018. And for every 100 mm drop in average rainfall, farmer incomes fall 15% during the kharif season and 7% during rabi. This will affect India’s food security, leaving its poor more vulnerable to rising food prices. It will also impact over half of India’s population which is dependent on the agricultural sector.
Climate change affects those living in rural areas more those in urban areas, said the Climate Trends report. This is because rural communities–with less access to market, capital and insurance–have fewer resources to cope with a disaster and rebuild themselves. The impact of climate change is not just limited to those living in extreme poverty. By 2030, the income of the bottom 40% people will reduce in comparison to scenarios without climate change, predicted the 2016 World Bank report. More than 100 million people may be pushed into poverty, it added. This widening of the wealth gap and the impact of climate change on worsening poverty will be much smaller in countries where development is rapid, inclusive and climate-informed, stated the report.

Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C, said the IPCC special report released on October 8.
Unless emissions are rapidly reduced, temperatures are expected to rise, leading to runaway climate change as early as next 10-12 years, predicted a November report by Climate Trends, a Delhi-based climate research firm. Events related to global warming such as floods, droughts, heat waves and cyclones will impact the world’s poor more and will push them into further poverty, stated the report, released on November 30 in New Delhi. People exposed to natural hazards in low-income regions are seven times more likely to die, and six times more likely to be injured or displaced, compared to those in high-income regions, said the Climate Trends report. Although absolute economic loss is higher in high-income areas, it is the poor who will lose a bigger part of their assets and income, as per a 2016 World Bank report titled “Shock Waves, Managing The Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty”. Poor communities tend to hold most of their wealth in forms like housing or livestock which are less resistant to natural hazards.

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