Even with a slight rise of one degree Celsius in global warming, India is being battered by the severe climate extremes. It is obvious that the situation is going to worsen with a 1.5 degrees rise, and hence India must immediately get its act together now, environmentalists cautioned.
The response of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) Director General Sunita Narain came on the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in Incheon in South Korea.
‘The IPCC climate change report states that the world will witness a higher frequency of droughts and floods, higher sea level rise, and heatwaves. Countries like India with large populations reliant on the agricultural and fishery sectors would be extremely impacted.’
The IPCC, the biggest UN scientific body, feeding climate science to policy-makers, released on Monday its special report on the impacts of global warming increase of 1.5 degrees.
It documents glaring evidence of the devastating impact of climate change on the poor and developing countries.
The CSE has done a detailed assessment of the findings of the IPCC report.
Says Chandra Bhushan, CSE's Deputy Director General and head of its climate change unit: "The report makes it clear that the impact of 1.5 degrees increased warming is greater than what was anticipated earlier."
"Accordingly, the world will witness greater sea level rise, increased precipitation and higher frequency of droughts and floods, hotter days and heat waves, more intense tropical cyclones, and increased ocean acidification and salinity."
He said that countries like India, with large populations dependent on agricultural and fishery sectors, would be highly impacted.
While a 1.5 degrees rise in global temperature will be precarious, a two-degree rise would be catastrophic.
The report points out that the risk transition from 1.5 degrees to two degrees is very high and that the effects at two degrees will be more devastating than what IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report had indicated.
Coastal nations and agricultural economies like India would be the worst affected. The decline in crop yields, unprecedented climate extremes, and increased susceptibility could push poverty by several million by 2050.
Considering the grim warning of the IPCC report, the CSE has appealed to the world to focus exclusively on limiting warming to 1.5 degrees instead of two degrees, which is the upper limit of the temperature goal mentioned under the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.
"The world cannot afford to warm of two degrees above the pre-industrial era. A world warmer by two degrees will devastate economies and ecosystems and push hundreds of millions of people back into poverty," Bhushan said.
The goal of climate change now must be firmly fixed at 1.5 degrees to give the communities and nations a fighting chance to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. India must take the lead in creating a global coalition in this endeavor, he added.
The IPCC report also makes it clear that the current level of climate ambition, as set out under the Paris agreement, will lead to disastrous effects on the planet as it is not in line with limiting warming to even two degrees.
With inadequate climate efforts, global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees between 2030 and 2052. If global emissions continue as per the commitments made under the Paris agreement, the carbon budget (amount of CO2 that the world can emit) for 1.5-degree warming will be exhausted by 2030.
To limit warming at 1.5 degrees, the world will have to reduce CO2 emissions by 45 percent by 2030 from the 2010 levels and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Responding to the publication of the IPCC report, Britain-based charity Christian Aid called for urgent action to bring rising temperatures under control.
"The IPCC scientists have done an amazing job in synthesizing over 6,000 scientific studies into a comprehensive report on how to limit climate change to manageable levels," Christian Aid's Global Climate Lead Kat Kramer said in a statement to IANS.
"Distilled down to its essence, it gives two key messages: One of hope we can limit climate change to 1.5 degrees of warming and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and another of urgency we need to decarbonize as much as possible, as fast as possible, including halving global emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050."
The average temperature in India's national capital increased by one degree Celsius, by 0.7 degrees in Mumbai, 0.6 degree in Chennai and 1.2 degrees in Kolkata in over a century and a half.
Britain-based CarbonBrief made these revelations. Its newly-developed web app calculates the average rise in your city and regional temperature since 1871.