"Climate change is a major threat to India and may lead to potentially dangerous problems," warned Sir David King, Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK government.
"The rise in sea levels due to global warming may endanger the coastline and dramatically alter the monsoon, which is crucial for the country's economy," said the scientist.
Sir David is here to participate in the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit organised by The Energy Resources Institute (TERI), accompanied by Britain's Minister for Environment and Agri-Environment Elliot Morley.
Speaking at a press conference on climate change organised by the TERI, Sir David presented a graphic account of global warming causing erosion of ice caps and the consequent rise in sea levels leading to major upheavals in Earth's climate.
He said UK was looking forward to working with Indian scientists on a climate-modelling programme. Hadley Centre, one of the world's premier institutes in climate-modelling, would be engaged in the project. Indian monsoon is likely to be one of the main areas of research.
The project was part of a joint science programme that started in 2001, said Sir David, who has been a key player in the Blair government's decision to make climate change a focus of its G-8 presidency this year.
"We are losing global ice at an alarming rate. The ice cap of Mount Kili Manjaro is eroding very fast — 85 per cent of it is gone, the rest probably won't last for another 10 to 15 years," said the UK scientist and official who had once described climate change as a "bigger threat than terrorism". Studies also indicate that by the end of the century there may be no ice left in China, he said.
"The carbon oxide levels are currently higher in the atmosphere." And the evidence comes from the fact that there had been 10 hottest summers in past 14 years. The temperatures in 2003 summer were 10 degrees higher than average temperatures.
A noted professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, Sir David, emphasised the need for direct production and use of biofuels in all countries. Another very important area was the use of husks or wastes to produce unconventional fuel, he said.
He expressed hope that "in the next 10 years we would have non-radioactive products," as intense research is on in the field of plasma physics.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr RK Pachauri, Director of the Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI) and chairman of the UN's top scientific authority on climate change, said there is no need for developing countries to follow rich nations. "Developing nations can bring about the necessary changes to reduce greenhouse emissions and slow the impact of climate change at a much lower level, we don't have to reach the level of advanced countries."
Pachauri, however, said though the frequency of individual extreme events doubled in the last decade, they could not be directly linked to climate change. Yet, the impact should be seen collectively.