India could witness deadly heatwaves if the planet's temperature goes up by two degrees Celsius, according to a report released Monday by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC).
The IPCC has come out with a special report on global warming that said limiting it to 1.5 degrees Celsius will require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.
The report has predicted that India and other countries with large populations dependent on agriculture and fishery will be highly impacted due to greater sea level rise, higher frequency of droughts and floods, and heatwaves, environmental think-tank CSE said.
The impact of 1.5 degrees Celsius warming is greater than what was anticipated earlier while the impacts at two degrees Celsius are "catastrophic" for the poor and for developing nations such as India, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said.
Greenpeace India said with an ambitious target of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, India can indeed help in keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, but at the same time India's needs to take a relook at its future energy investments in coal and oil.
The IPCC report points out how regions in India will be exposed to extreme heat waves. As per the report climate change will significantly hamper the GDPs of developing economies such as India.
"India's long coastline is already dealing with the effects of sea level rise, which will increase if the we fail to keep temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius," Nandikesh Sivalingam, campaign manager, Greenpeace India, said.
The IPCC report said,"At +1.5 degrees Celsius, twice as many mega cities as present such as Lagos in Nigeria and Shanghai in China are likely to become heat stressed, potentially exposing more than 350 million more people to deadly heat stress by 2050."
"At +2 C warming, Karachi (Pakistan) and Kolkata (India) could expect annual conditions equivalent to their deadly 2015 heatwaves (medium confidence)," the report said.
Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared the IPCC report in response to an invitation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when it adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015.
The report said regionally differentiated multi-sector risks are already apparent at 1.5 degrees Celsius warming, being more prevalent (where) vulnerable people live, predominantly in South Asia – mostly Pakistan, India, and China, but these spread to sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and East Asia as temperature rises, with the world's poorest disproportionately impacted by two degrees Celsius.
The report said although warming is projected to be the highest in the Northern Hemisphere under 1.5 C or 2 C of global warming, regions in the tropics and Southern Hemisphere subtropics that are projected to experience the largest impacts on economic growth.
"Statistically significant reductions in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita growth are projected across much of the African continent, southeast Asia, India, Brazil and Mexico," the report said.
Coastal flooding by the sea is likely to cost thousands on billions of USD annually, with damage costs under constant protection 0.3-5.0 per cent of global GDP in 2100, it said.
Risks are projected to be highest in south and south-east Asia, assuming there is no upgrade to present protection levels, for all temperatures of climate warming.
"Countries where at least 50 million people exposed to SLR (sea level rise)...include China, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, United States and Vietnam," it said.
The report said recent projections of the potential impacts of climate change on malaria globally and for Asia, Africa, and South America confirm that weather and climate are among the drivers of the geographic range, intensity of transmission, and seasonality of malaria, and that the relationships are not necessarily linear, resulting in complex patterns of changes in risk with additional warming.
"Projections suggest the burden of malaria could increase with climate change because of a greater geographic range of the anopheles vector, longer season, and increase in the number of people at risk, with larger burdens with greater amounts of warming, with regionally variable patterns," it said.
"Aedes (the mosquito vector for the dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever, and Zika virus) - projections of the geographic distribution of Aedes Aegypti and Ae. Albopictus (principal vectors) or of the prevalence of dengue fever generally conclude there will be an increase in the number of mosquitoes and a larger geographic range at 2 C than at 1.5 C and beyond than at present, and suggest more individuals at risk of dengue fever, with regional differences," the report stated.
The surface of three ocean basins have warmed over the period 1950 – 2016 (by 0.11 , 0.07 , and 0.05 degrees Celsius per decade for the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans respectively with the greatest changes occurring at the highest latitudes, it said.
The IPCC report was timed to feed into the December UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, where world leaders will be under pressure to ramp up national carbon-cutting pledges which – even if fulfilled – would yield a 3 degrees Celsius world.