Heat-related losses highest in India among G20 countries: Report

Published on Oct 21, 2022 12:10 AM IST

According to the ‘Climate Transparency Report 2022’, the losses were the highest in four sectors — services, manufacturing, agriculture, and construction

Noida, India - May 30, 2015: Laborers work at a brick kiln on a hot summer day in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, on Saturday, May 30, 2015. The blistering heatwave claimed more than1,800 lives in just over a week in India. In southern India, hundreds of people died since the middle of April as soaring summer temperatures scorch the country. (Photo by Burhaan Kinu / Hindustan Times)
Noida, India - May 30, 2015: Laborers work at a brick kiln on a hot summer day in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, on Saturday, May 30, 2015. The blistering heatwave claimed more than1,800 lives in just over a week in India. In southern India, hundreds of people died since the middle of April as soaring summer temperatures scorch the country. (Photo by Burhaan Kinu / Hindustan Times)
ByJayashree Nandi

Losses to earnings from heat-related labour capacity reduction were the highest in India among G20 nations in 2021, a new analysis by the grouping has found.

According to the ‘Climate Transparency Report 2022’ that was released by a partnership of climate analysis organisations in G20 countries, the losses were the highest in four sectors — services, manufacturing, agriculture, and construction.

“In 2021, rising temperatures have already brought income losses in services, manufacturing, agriculture, and construction sectors. Countries most affected by income losses in these sectors were India (5.4% of GDP), Indonesia (1.6% of GDP), and Saudi Arabia (1% of GDP).

The highest percentage change in heat-related deaths in people over 65 years of age in the 2017–2021 period compared to 2000–2004 period was Indonesia (227%); Brazil (191%) and Saudi Arabia (141%).

In 2021, average global temperature was about 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. India is also extremely vulnerable to an increasing population affected by heatwaves annually; change in soil moisture content and reduction in cereal yields due to rise in average global temperatures, the report, which sourced projections from different publications and analyses has flagged.

India’s rice production could decrease by 10–30%, and maize production could drop by 25–70% with temperature increases in a range of 1°C–4°C, according to the report.

In 2021, heat exposure in India led to the loss of 167 billion potential labour hours, a 39% increase from the 1990–1999 decade, stated the report.

“At 1.5°C, most G20 members can expect water scarcity and prolonged periods of drought; more frequent and extreme heatwaves; and less favourable agricultural conditions. This gives cause for concern because, even if governments were to implement their current NDCs, the average temperature rise is already projected to be 2.4 degree C. The number of people exposed each year to climate-induced hazards is expected to rise as the temperature increases. In India alone, 142 million people, roughly 10% of the population, may be exposed to summer heatwaves at 1.5 degree C,” the report states.

At 3°C of warming, the exposure to heat waves will increase to over 20% of the population in Brazil and almost 30% in India, it added.

The report calls for adaptation finance for India. Global estimated adaptation needs are $140-300 billion by 2030 annually, said the report, but at the current rate of the changing climate, adaptation finance will need to be raised by a factor of 5-10 to meet the needs.

The report also laid emphasis on the role or developed countries in combating the climate crisis.

It states that developed countries have failed to deliver on their climate finance commitments and do not even meet a ‘fair share’ of the USD 100bn per goal.

The US was especially short, contributing only 5% of their annual fair share in 2020 whereas only Germany, France and Japan have surpassed their fair share of the annual $100 billion, the report found.

“COP26 resolved to double adaptation funding which is only 20% of all climate finance at present. Moreover, the prevalence of loans rather than grants has been making climate vulnerable countries more deeply indebted. At COP-27, India can advocate for the urgent need for adaptation finance, which can reduce the need for loss and damage finance in the future,” said Ulka Kelkar, director, climate programme, World Resources Institute (WRI) India, responding to findings of the report.

Following the security crisis in Ukraine, G20 governments’ support to produce fossil fuels increased significantly at $64 billion in 2021. G20’s fossil fuel subsidies had fallen to $147 billion in 2020, they rose again by 29% to $190 billion in 2021, according to data from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) referred to by the Climate Transparency Report.

“Subsidies have continued to rise into 2022, partly because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine triggering skyrocketing energy prices, which have also supercharged profits for energy companies. The countries with the highest total subsidies for fossil fuels were China, Indonesia and the UK backing production and consumption that will contribute to driving global temperatures well above the 1.5 degree C warming limit agreed globally in the Paris Agreement and reaffirmed last year at COP26 in Glasgow,” Climate Transparency said in a statement on Thursday.

Between 2020 and 2021, total energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the G20 increased by 5.9%, after a reduction of 4.9% between 2019 and 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Countries with the highest rebound in per capita energy related emissions growth last year, compared to 2020, are Brazil (+13%, after a decline of 6% between 2019 and 2020), Turkey (+11%, after a decline of -1%), and Russia (+10%, after a decline of - 4%).

“The G20 is responsible for three-quarters of the world’s emissions. These are the world’s biggest economies, many of them home to the finance and technologies needed to tackle the climate crisis. We are now in a moment where geopolitics and energy security issues are combining to really hammer home the benefits of cheap renewables, yet we are still seeing many of these governments turning to fossil fuels as the solution,” said a statement by Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, one of the organisations leading the analysis.

“Gas and coal can be the most expensive, highest emitting, and least secure options for energy, but they still will receive the highest levels of government support,” he added.

The share of renewables in the power generation mix increased in all G20 countries between 2016 and 2021 with the strongest increase in the UK (+67%), Japan (+48%) and Mexico (+40%).

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