India may lose anywhere around 3 to 10 per cent of its GDP annually by 2100 and its poverty rate may rise by 3.5 per cent in 2040 due to climate change, as per a report published by the London-based global think tank Overseas Development Institute on Tuesday, June 8.
The report, which is titled 'The Costs of Climate Change in India', probes the economic costs of climate-related risks in the country. Further, it also points towards the possibility of increased inequality and poverty due to climate change.
The report stated that India is experiencing the consequences of 1°C of global warming. Extreme heatwaves, heavy rainfall, severe flooding, catastrophic storms and rising sea levels are damaging livelihoods and assets across the country, mentioned the report.
However, the report pointed out that even though India has made rapid progress in increasing incomes and living standards in the past three decades, without rapid global action, climate change may reverse the development gains of recent decades.
"Climate change is already slowing the pace of poverty reduction and increasing inequality in India. The districts that have warmed the fastest have seen gross domestic product grow on average 56 per cent less than those that have warmed the slowest. Without rapid global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, rising average temperatures may actually reverse the development gains of recent decades," it stated as reported by The Indian Express.
The report also finds that even if the temperatures are contained to two degrees Celsius, India will lose 2.6 percent GDP annually. Further, if the global temperatures were to increase to 3 degrees Celsius, this loss will magnify to 13.4 per cent annually.
An analysis of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Mahanadi deltas, where over 60 per cent of cropland and pastureland in these regions is assigned to satisfying demand from elsewhere, shows the climate-induced disappearance of this activity which will lead to an economic loss of 18–32 per cent of GDP.
It further points to the possibility of rising inequalities. For instance, the combination of rising cereal prices, declining wages in the agricultural sector and the slower rate of economic growth attributed to climate change "could increase India's national poverty rate by 3.5 per cent in 2040 compared to a zero-warming scenario".
This prediction equates to around 50 million more poor people than there otherwise would have been in that year. While the impact could be seen in both urban and rural populations, it will be the rural population that will be impacted harder.
While both urban and rural populations will face the brunt of rising cereal prices, it will be the rural population that will be impacted harder.
The report also pointed out that pursuing low-carbon development could mitigate projected costs, would also yield other economic advantages as well.