India's rural economy at risk from climate change

ADB Agri 200814

New Delhi (ISJ) ? India's agriculture is at risk from climate change and face losses of upto 8.7% of the country?s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the end of the century, unless the world respond to a host of climate threats, says a report by Asian Development Bank (ADB). In its latest report on climate and economics of South Asia, ADB says at the current pace, India would see economic losses equivalent to 1.8% of annual GDP by 2050, widening it to 8.7% by 2100. The report titled ?Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia,? predicts the loss to Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka in equal measure.

"Agriculture provides employment and livelihood opportunities to most of India?s rural population and changes in temperature and rainfall, and an increase in floods and droughts linked to climate change, would have a devastating impact on people?s food security, incomes, and lives," said Bindu Lohani, ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development.

But if global nations take efforts to mitigate and keep the temperature rise below 2�C, the damage could be kept below 2% by 2100.

India is vulnerable in many areas including its economically critical agriculture sector. The report notes while changes in rainfall patterns are likely to benefit rice output in most northeastern states, southern states could see annual yields decline by 5% in the 2030s, 14.5% in the 2050s, and 17% in the 2080s. The country has 8,000 kilometers of coastline and nearly half the country?s 28 states could face serious consequences from a rise in the sea level, with Gujarat expected to suffer the highest level of inundation, and Maharashtra the largest number of affected people.

With glacial and snow retreat in the Himalayas, many of the semi-arid mountains, inhabited by some 170 million people, will lose some of their local springs and streams, essential to villages and livestock grazing, while higher temperatures and prolonged droughts will put immense strain on limited water resources. Currently irrigation accounts for 85% of total water demand and this is expected to keep rising.

The report says, South Asia will need to spend at least 73 billion US dollars, or an average of 0.86% of its GDP, every year between now and 2100 on adaptation measures. On the other hand, if countries act together to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2.5�C, the cost of shielding the region from the worst of the impacts would be nearly halved to around 40.6 billion US dollars, or 0.48% of GDP.

The report does not provide detailed adaptation costs on a country basis but in the energy sector it notes that a rising gap between demand and supply could see India face an annual adaptation bill of nearly 8 billion US dollars in the 2030s, rising sharply to nearly 22 billion US dollars in the 2050s.

The report also details adaptation measures that countries should consider in responding to climate threats, including the use of drought, flood and saline-resistant crop varieties, more integrated coastal zone management, increased efficiencies in the energy sector, improved disease and vector surveillance, and more protection of groundwater resources and greater use of recycled water.

Source: ADB

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