For the people of this city, what will a one-meter rise in sea level mean?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted a one-metre rise by 2011-12. the questions for Mumbai are: Can it submerge low-lying areas like Versova beach, reduce our fresh water supplies, displace lakhs of slum dwellers, weaken foundations of high-rise towers near the shore?
In the next two years, as The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) undertakes a climate change study for the state, we will have definite answers to at least some of these questions.
On Wednesday, the state signed an MoU with TERI for a Rs 97.99-lakh, two-year study across the state. It will analyse projected climate change impact on four key sectors – hydrology and water resources, agriculture, coastal areas, marine ecosystems and livelihood, including impact on migration.
TERI consultants will work out a vulnerability index for the identified sectors, resulting from variables including temperature change, sea level rise and the frequency of extreme events. TERI will also suggest an adaptation strategy for Mumbai to deal with the complications arising from climate change.
For instance the study will look at how climate change will affect health, ecosystems like mangroves, as well as markets – and recommend policies to adapt with these with changes in housing, urban development, land use.
“One TERI estimate puts the cost of climate change-related damages to Mumbai at Rs 2.28 lakh crore if there is no adaptation plan, and there is a serious concern about Mumbai,” said an official involved in the project, on condition of anonymity.
“We’ll have a high-powered committee under the chief secretary to look at implementing the recommendations. We’re very serious about adapting climate change impact at the policy level,” said environment minister Suresh Shetty.