IPCC’s new report sounds alarm bells for Mumbai

The new report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Monday features multiple warning signs for Mumbai, which is one of the world’s most vulnerable cities with respect to climate change
The IPCC has also taken a critical view of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Coastal Road project, terming it ‘maladaptive’ in the long term. HT Photo
The IPCC has also taken a critical view of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Coastal Road project, terming it ‘maladaptive’ in the long term. HT Photo
Published on Mar 02, 2022 01:12 AM IST
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ByPrayag Arora-Desai, Mumbai

The new report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Monday features multiple warning signs for Mumbai, which is one of the world’s most vulnerable cities with respect to climate change.

The report titled IPCC 6th Assessment Report Working Group II (AR6) said Mumbai ranks second among the 20 largest coastal cities which are scheduled to incur major economic losses due to flooding and sea level rise (SLR), behind Guangzhou in China.

“In South Asia, migration hotspots, including Gangetic Plain and Delhi-Lahore corridor, coastal cities such as Chennai, Chittagong, Dhaka and Mumbai will be simultaneously exposed to climate change impacts,” the report said.

“In Mumbai, SLR damage amounts to US$49-$50 billion by 2050 and could increase by a factor of 2.9 by 2070,” the AR6 said, citing previous research on the subject dating to 2020. That is a loss of 4,900 crore to 5,000 crore.

Another paper cited by the IPCC said that in a situation where greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow, damage from SLR in Mumbai alone may cost up to US$162 billion ( 12,082 crore) per year by 2050.

“The number of people exposed to 1-in-100-year storm surge events is the highest in Asia. China, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam have the highest numbers of coastal populations exposed with Guangzhou, Mumbai, Shenzen, Tianjin, Ho Chi Minh 40 City, Kolkata, and Jakarta incurring losses of US$1,520 million due to coastal flooding in 2005 alone,” the report said.

The IPCC has also taken a critical view of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Coastal Road project, terming it ‘maladaptive’ in the long term. “Infrastructural interventions can sometimes be maladaptive when assessed over longer time periods, e.g., the Mumbai Coastal Road project aimed at reducing flood risk and protecting against SLR will potentially cause damage to intertidal fauna and flora and local fishing livelihoods,” the report said.

The AR6 emphasised that a very high urban population is exposed to increased flood risk in megacities, including Mumbai. In Mumbai, poorer families’ homes require many repairs to protect them against flood damage, and the total cost of those repairs consumes a larger proportion of their income than for wealthier ones. Building the resilience of vulnerable people necessitates robust community and government institutions capable of supporting efforts to cope with catastrophic occurrences as well as social protection and development measures to assist at-risk or vulnerable populations. However, the report also said that “the share of climate financing spent on disaster preparedness is not very large in megacities like Beijing, Mumbai, and Jakarta. The majority of adaptation efforts were focused on disaster risk management”.

“The impact of cyclones is going to be much more pronounced in the future for Mumbai; both pre- and post-monsoon cyclones will increase. India has a 7,500 km coastline along which most of the megacities like Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai are situated. So, the impact of SLR, storm surges, cyclones, and rising sea surface temperatures are all high-risk factors for these megacities and adaptation is the primary solution,” said Anjal Prakash, a research director at Bharti Institute of Public Policy (under the Indian School of Business) and a current author of IPCC 6th Assessment Report Working Group II.

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