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Climate risk: 9 Indian states among top vulnerable places in the world

ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi
Feb 21, 2023 10:35 AM IST

The vast majority (80%) of 50 provinces facing the highest climate risk to their physical infrastructure by 2050 are in China, the US, and India, according to a ranking released on Monday by Cross Dependency Initiative, which specialises in climate risk analytics for companies, banks and regions.

The vast majority (80%) of 50 provinces facing the highest climate risk to their physical infrastructure by 2050 are in China, the US, and India, according to a ranking released on Monday by Cross Dependency Initiative, which specialises in climate risk analytics for companies, banks and regions.

India’s commercial capital, Mumbai is at high risk.
India’s commercial capital, Mumbai is at high risk.

In India, Punjab, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Kerala and Assam are the most vulnerable, the ranking indicates underlining that India’s commercial capital, Mumbai is at high risk. India has nine states in the 50 high risk states; China, 26, and the US, five.

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The Gross Domestic Climate Risk ranking reflects physical risk to the built infrastructure from eight climate change hazards: riverine and surface flooding, coastal inundation (coastal flooding), extreme heat, forest fire, soil movement (drought-related), extreme wind and freeze thaw. The analysis uses global climate models, combined with local weather and environmental data and engineering archetypes, to calculate probable damage to the built environment under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s RCP 8.5 scenario – a high emission scenario consistent with average global warming over 3 degree C above pre-industrial temperatures by the end of the century.

"Gross Domestic Climate Risk ranking by XDI is a stark reminder that climate change will be marauding the developmental trajectories across the global south. The report states that under high emissions scenarios (around four-degree rise), 9 Indian states that are ranked within the top 50 most at-risk states and provinces will witness an average of 110 per cent increase in damage risk by 2050. Currently, with a 0.8 degrees rise in temperature, India’s 27 states and more than three-quarters of its districts are extreme event hotspots accounting for a 5 percent loss in GDP. These numbers speak volumes. If global warming is not limited to 2-degree thresholds, climate-vulnerable states like Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, among others, will lose more than 10 per cent of their gross state domestic product (GSDP). India has already established its global thought leadership by founding 21st-century institutions like ISA and CDRI, these institutions should leapfrog in making India the climate solutions hub for the world by fostering systemic, technological, and financial innovations from the margins to the mainstream. Since climate risks and readiness do not go hand-in-hand, promoting nature-based solutions should be a national imperative that can avert the extent of loss and damage to physical assets and infrastructures", Abinash Mohanty, sector head, IPE-Global- an international development organisation said.

In China, whose states dominate the ranking, the most affected provinces are concentrated in the east and south, along the floodplains and deltas of the Yangtze and Pearl Rivers. In the US, the economically important states of California, Texas and Florida are most affected. Other countries with multiple provinces and states in the top 50 include Brazil, Pakistan and Indonesia.

The ranking data can be significant for investors, as extensive built-up areas overlap with high levels of economic activity and property wealth. It can inform climate resilient investment, in conjunction with adaptation measures and infrastructure planning undertaken by state and provincial governments, a statement by XDI (Cross Dependency Initiative) said on Monday.

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The top two most at-risk provinces in the world in 2050 are two of the largest economic hubs in China , Jiangsu and Shandong. Each has an economy worth over a trillion US dollars, according to the report.

“We’re releasing this analysis in response to demand from investors for data on sub-sovereign and regional risk. The findings from the XDI Gross Domestic Climate Risk ranking underscore the importance of pricing physical climate risk in financial markets, including bond markets, given the amount of capital investment represented by the assets at risk in the provinces identified, the vulnerability of global supply chains, and the need for climate resilience to inform investment… Now – for the first time – the finance industry can directly compare Mumbai, New York and Berlin using a like-for-like methodology,” said XDI CEO Rohan Hamden in a statement on Monday.

Sea level rise is a driving hazard for many states in the US. The US Fourth National Climate Assessment found that sea level rise rates along the Mid-Atlantic Coast were three to four times higher than the global average rate. In the Midwest, the highest-ranking states are those that have escalating risk from both flood and wildfire.

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