Environment

Climate Change Threatens 55 Million in India’s Coastal Areas, Report Warns

Rising sea levels threaten the livelihoods of 55 million people living on India's coasts. Kuda Bandos, Maldives. Credit: nattu/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Rising sea levels threaten the livelihoods of 55 million people living on India’s coasts. Credit: nattu/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Washington: Climate change threatens nearly 55 million people in India’s coastal areas and could lock in enough sea level rise to submerge land currently home to more than half a billion people globally if the temperature spikes by 4º celsius – humanity’s current trajectory. The warning came from a new report published yesterday in Climate Central, a US-based non-profit research and journalism organisation.

It also warned that a 4º celsius increase in temperature could submerge over 145 million people in China. The findings come just weeks ahead of a UN climate summit in Paris, from November 30 to December 11. The objective of the summit is to cap the rise in Earth’s temperatures to 2º celsius above pre-industrial levels, and this remains a serious challenge.

“A 4C warming scenario could lock in enough sea level rise to submerge land inhabited by half or more of today’s population in Shanghai and Shantou, China; Haora (Howrah), Calcutta and Mumbai, India; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Khulna, Bangladesh,” the report said. However, it also said that if the increase in global temperature is managed to 2 degrees, the target set by the international community, this man-made calamity could be considerably reduced.

If the world’s temperature rises by 2º celsius, homes of 20 million people in India would be submerged in sea while the figure is expected to be 64 million in China.

Carbon emissions causing warming upto 4º celsius could lock in enough sea level rise to submerge land currently home to 470 to 760 million people, the report added. It also showed that aggressive carbon emissions cuts resulting in 2º celsius could bring the numbers down to 130 million. China – the world’s leading carbon emitter – also led in coastal risk, with 145 million people living on land ultimately threatened by rising seas if emission levels weren’t reduced.

Twelve other nations each have more than 10 million people living on land at risk, led by India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The United States is most threatened outside of Asia, with roughly 25 million people on implicated land. Meeting the 2C goal would cut exposure by more than half in the US, China, and India, the world’s top three carbon emitters, as well as in many other nations.

  • Ravi Katari

    Rising sea levels, erosion of beaches on account of manmade structures, and construction in coastal areas in complete disregard of the CRZ norms seems par for the course in our country. We stand to lose thousands of square miles of land as a result. There is no apparent concern on the part of Govt both at the Centre and States. There are many NGOs and private individuals, as well as some committed bureaucrats, who could present a strategy that would help. Perhaps a separate Corporation coming under an appropriate Ministry should be created with enough powers to implement it’s recommendations. In my view there is literally no time to lose and all political parties need to come together on this issue.