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Climate change will lead to food shortages in India

Tuesday, 1 April 2014 - 8:35am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna
Greenpeace urges swift transition to renewable energy to disarm threat in light of new UN report
  • Rajendra K Pachauri, IPCC chairman (left) speaks with Christopher Field, co-chairman during a press conference in Yokohama, Japan, on Monday AP

The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report – released in Yokohama, Japan on Monday – has set off warning bells across the world particularly for countries in South Asia which have huge coastlines. Greenpeace India has urged Indian leaders to take cognizance of the warning in the report, and accelerate clean and safe energy transition.

The IPCC report has said climate change impacts are already widespread across all continents and oceans and rapidly worsening. The report states that in Asia, this climate chaos can bring about floods, heat-related mortality, and drought and water related food shortage. For an agro-based economy like India that depends largely on monsoons, this can be disastrous.

The report also states that climate change will have a negative impact on wheat yields in South Asia. Global food production is reducing slowly, and IPCC chairperson, RK Pachauri has even said that in some parts of the world, the much-touted green revolution has reached a plateau. Also an increase in riverine, coastal, and urban flooding can lead to widespread damage to infrastructure, livelihoods, and settlements, in Asia. This might mean likely impact on cities such as, Mumbai and Kolkata in India and Dhaka in Bangladesh. But how bad it will get hinges on near-term choices.

The dangers of climate change are real, have been clearly spelt out by the IPCC Working Group II report titled 'Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability'. "It clearly shows that continuing on the path of coal and high carbon emissions will hurt India's development and economy eventually and all that had been gained in improving the standard of living in the country will be negated. In a matter of few days India will vote again and the new government cannot be unmindful of India's vulnerability to climate change impacts," says Arpana Udupa, campaigner, Greenpeace India.

The recent hailstorms in parts of Karnataka Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh which destroyed crops such as wheat, gram, cotton, jowar, onion and vineyards in over 12 lakh hectares of land, and led to consequent farmer suicides, points towards IPCC's prediction of erratic precipitation patterns. The IPCC had earlier predicted a possible decrease in overall rainfall but an increase in extreme weather events.

"With the latest report predicting severe impact on wheat, the new Indian government will have to take positive steps to mitigate the problem," says Udupa. According to her, the IPCC report also provides some hope when it states that limiting warming below 2 degree Celsius would reduce many key risks to medium or low level. "The new government should speedily act to bring about a clean energy transition and strengthen adaptation, looking at the mitigation and adaptation benefits in every scheme, starting from energy," she says.

The IPCC report found that climate change is a growing threat to human security, as it exacerbates food and water vulnerabilities and indirectly increases the risks of migration and violent conflicts. "Oil rigs and coal power plants are weapons of mass destruction, loading the atmosphere with destructive carbon emissions that don't respect national borders. To protect our peace and security, we must disarm them and accelerate the transition to clean and safe renewable energy that's already started," said Jen Maman, peace adviser at Greenpeace International.

Greenpeace has demanded that the new Indian government should come to the climate summit of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September with serious offers that will help the world and India itself to achieve a clean and safe energy transition.




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