In a global warming report , UN warns India, Pakistan of deadly heatwaves

New Delhi: A UN report by Nobel Prize-winning panel of scientists has stated the deadly heatwaves that hit India and Pakistan in 2015 – that claimed over 3,600 lives in just three months – could become a recurring occurrence in the neighbouring nations, if the global temperatures rise more than 2 degrees Celsius (C) compared to pre-industrial levels.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN body, specifically names Kolkata and Karachi in a new report. These two cities, could expect annual conditions equivalent to their 2015 heatwaves if temperatures cross the 2-degree mark, the IPCC report says.

The report – that warns time is running out to avert disaster – comes at a time when earth’s surface has warmed one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit). The current climatic condition is enough to lift oceans and unleash a crescendo of deadly storms, floods and droughts and it is on track toward an unliveable 3ºC or 4ºC rise.

At current levels of greenhouse gas emissions, we could pass the 1.5ºC marker as early as 2030, and no later than mid-century, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) reported with “high confidence”.

Following the 2015 Paris climate agreement – in which policymakers from around the world, including India and Pakistan, agreed to work towards limiting the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C – a team 91 authors from 40 countries came together to piece together the IPCC report – which was released in Incheon, South Korea on Monday (Oct. 08).

India and heatwaves

  • Previous research has already shown that parts of Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India could soon become uninhabitable because of heatwaves, which are now claiming more lives in India than ever before.
  • In response, state governments have been working on action plans and raising awareness about best practices for heatwaves.
  • India’s National Disaster Management Authority has even set a zero-mortality goal for heatwaves, which it says is seeing some progress.
  • Between 1992 and 2016, heatwaves caused nearly 26,000 deaths in India alone, but 2016 and 2017 were among the hottest recorded years in the country’s history.
  • Earlier this year, temperatures once again soared well above 40°C in states such as Rajasthan in the west and Andhra Pradesh in the south, threatening the lives of millions.

Global sea level could rise 50 feet

  • Additionally, a study published in the journal Annual Review of Environment and Resources has also stressed that the global average sea-level could rise by nearly eight feet by 2100 and 50 feet by 2300 if the greenhouse gas emissions remain high.
  • The study states this phenomenon poses a major risk to coastal populations and ecosystems around the world. The researcher in the report said that 11 per cent of the world’s 7.6 billion people live in areas less than 33 feet above sea level and the said rise in sea level would affect coastal populations, economies, infrastructure and ecosystems around the world