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Climate Change: Severe Impacts Across India

In the first part of 2021, India was badly affected by COVID 19, which further decreased the resilience of communities already at risk of being uprooted by storms, floods, droughts, and other climatic calamities. In response to the global financial crisis, the Indian government unveiled one of the largest stimulus packages ever, which will account for around 11% of its GDP in 2019. The COVID recovery stimulus package for India primarily funds projects in fields that, through increased use of fossil fuels and unsustainable land use, for example, are anticipated to have a significant detrimental impact on the environment.

Feed-in tariffs are a necessary kind of price support for India, and shifting subsidies from fossil to non-fossil fuel sources may play a significant role in increasing the proportion in the mix of energy sources used in the nation that are renewable.

India saw its warmest March in 2022. From March through May of this year, various states in North, Central, and East India experienced early heat waves as a result of this. The nation saw 280 heat wave days between March 11th and May 18th of 2022, which is the most in the previous 12 years. In and around India, heat waves on land and depressions in the sea started early this year on March 11th.

The IMD's hazard atlas for India did not include March when providing statistics on heat waves when it was released in 2021. Only the stages of April through July's data on "heat waves" were provided. This suggests that the "heat waves" that are expected in March 2022 are "not normal." This is roughly twice what the nation endured in 2012, the year with the second-highest heat wave in the previous ten years.

When a region has temperatures that are 4.5–6.4°C above average, a heat wave is declared. According to IMD, a heat wave is considered to be present when temperatures exceed 6.4°C above average. This year's heat waves were concentrated in five states, which included Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

According to IMD's analysis, April was the third-warmest April the nation has experienced in the previous 122 years (1901 to 2022) and the hottest month for northwest and central India. As per a global study based on media accounts, these heat waves pose a significant risk to public health, and at least 90 deaths have been reported in the two nations (India and Pakistan).

In addition, climate change is being exacerbated by a number of factors, including deforestation, droughts, air pollution, and plastic waste, and its effects are particularly felt in India.

Among the main causes of air pollution in India are vehicle emissions, industrial waste, kitchen smoke, the construction industry, crop burning, and electricity generating. The nation, which emits more than 2.65 billion metric tonnes of carbon annually, is the third-largest polluter in the world due to its dependence on coal, oil, and gas as a result of widespread electrification. The World Air Quality Report clearly demonstrates that the AQI in India continues to be on a worrisome trend despite the steps taken to reduce air pollution.

India's waters have been significantly affected by the illegal dumping of raw sewage, silt, and trash into rivers and lakes. An inadequate waste management system and a nearly complete lack of pipe design are only making matters worse. A startling 40 million litres of effluent enter rivers and other bodies of water each day. Due to inadequate infrastructure, only a small portion of these are adequately treated.

The biodiversity of freshwater is also badly harmed. The nation's rivers and lakes frequently serve as untreated open sewers for commercial and residential trash. Aquatic species can be killed by the latter, which includes a variety of hazardous compounds like oil products, pesticides, and herbicides, as well as heavy metals, by modifying their environment and making it extremely difficult for them to exist.

Due to decreased productivity brought on by lakhs (One hundred thousand; 100,000; or with Indian digit grouping, 1,00,000) of Indians being unable to work in the intense heat, the heatwave has also contributed to a downturn in the economy. These irregular droughts frequently have a severe impact on the agriculture industry, which accounts for more than 60% of all jobs.

Furthermore, the growing urbanisation of India makes garbage management more difficult. Currently, just 5% of the total waste collected is recycled, 18% is composted, and the remainder is disposed of at landfills, making India one of the worst countries on earth for the plastic catastrophe. India is ranked second among the top 20 nations for both the national and international percentage of riverine plastic emissions. Because they transport and dispose of the majority of the plastic waste in the nation, the Indus, Brahmaputra, and Ganges rivers are referred to as "highways of plastic flows." Nearly 90% of the plastics that are released into the sea globally come from these and the top 10 most contaminated rivers.

On another note, the Himalayas, the Western Ghats, Sundaland (including the Nicobar Islands), and the Indo-Burma region are the four main biodiversity hotspots in the nation; areas with high concentrations of animal and plant species that are endangered by human occupation. While deforestation wiped down 2.8% of forests, much of the damage was due to wildfires, which affected more than 18,000 square kilometres of forest every year - more than double the yearly rate of deforestation.

India will hold the G-20 presidency this year from December 1 through November 30, giving it a fantastic opportunity to put climate change mitigation measures into action and the country has the potential to represent the voice of the voiceless because choices affecting the Global South are now made in the developed world. This would offer India the freedom to help millions of people escape poverty while simultaneously assisting in halting a rise in the global temperature. By developing structures that permit climate financing, this can be accomplished. This funding ought to go beyond the $100 billion yearly commitment made at COP15 and can be used to assist developing nations in removing coal and other highly polluting energy sources from their energy mix.


Additionally, this money can be utilised to aid nations in improving their capacity to adapt to climate change. This can be accomplished by bolstering current infrastructure, such as that of cities, agriculture, supply networks, etc., using this fund. Climate justice is an absolute necessity, in addition to taking urgent climate action.

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