Climate change may prevent India from meeting its long-term development goals.

India’s heat waves are becoming more frequent, intense, and deadly, putting a strain on agriculture, public health, and other social and cultural systems. According to Ramit Debnath and colleagues at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, U.K., in a study that was published in PLOS Climate, heat waves made more likely by climate change may hinder India’s progress toward its sustainable development objectives.

India has pledged to accomplish the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations, which include poverty elimination, good health and well-being, decent employment, and economic expansion. However, it’s possible that the way heat waves caused by climate change may affect progress toward the SDGs is not fully captured in the current climate vulnerability assessments. Researchers compared India’s heat index (HI) with its climate vulnerability index (CVI), a composite index that takes into account socioeconomic, livelihood, and biophysical factors using a variety of indicators, in order to examine India’s climate vulnerability and the ways in which climate change may affect progress toward the SDGs.

“In India, heat waves are becoming more intense, putting 80% of the country’s people in danger, which is unaccounted for in the country’s current climate vulnerability assessment.” If this impact is not addressed soon, India’s progress toward sustainable development targets may be slowed.”

Ramit Debnath at University of Cambridge,

They got to an openly accessible dataset on state-level environment weakness pointers from the Indian Government’s Public Information and Investigation Stage to order seriousness classifications. The analysts then analyzed India’s advancement in SDG north of 20 years (2001-2021) with outrageous climate related mortality from 2001-2021.

The specialists found that intensity waves have debilitated SDG progress more than recently assessed and that ongoing appraisal measurements may not adequately catch the subtleties of India’s weaknesses to environmental change influences. For example, in assessing Hello, the review shows that almost 90% of the nation is in peril zone from heat wave influences.

About 20% of the country is extremely vulnerable to climate change, according to the CVI. Similar effects were observed in the national capital, where HI estimates indicate that almost all of Delhi is at risk from severe heat wave impacts, despite the fact that the state’s most recent climate change action plan does not take this into account. However, this study had a number of limitations, such as the inconsistent timeframe for heat index data (2022) and CVI data (2019–2020). More recent data should be included in future studies.

“This study shows that heat waves make more Indian states vulnerable to climate change than previously estimated with the CVI,” the authors write. Since heat waves are becoming more frequent and longer-lasting in India and the Indian subcontinent, it is high time that climate experts and policymakers reevaluate the metrics used to evaluate the country’s vulnerability to climate change. Through international partnership and cooperation, this opens up the possibility of creating a comprehensive vulnerability assessment.”

“Heat waves are getting stronger in India, putting 80 percent of the country’s people in danger, which remains unaccounted for in its current climate vulnerability assessment,” the authors add. India may experience delays in achieving its sustainable development objectives if this effect is not immediately addressed.

More information: Lethal heatwaves are challenging India’s sustainable development, PLOS Climate (2023). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pclm.0000156

Journal information: PLOS Climate 

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