Urban India must prepare for the climate crisis

Australia’s recent bout of bushfires, sparked by an extended drought, has devastated its local flora and fauna. Meanwhile, just across the Timor Sea, Indonesia’s capital Jakarta witnessed record-breaking flooding with unseasonal rainfall, displacing tens of thousands.

Closer to home, cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru have witnessed more days of temperature exceeding 35°Cin the past decade than they did in the past. Average temperatures in India increased by 0.6°Cbetween 1910 and 2018.

In 2018, India suffered over 2,081 deaths from climate-triggered extreme weather events, with an economic loss of over $37.8 billion (about three times the losses of 2017).

In particular, 2018 saw heavy flooding in Kerala, combined with tropical cyclones such as Gaja and Titli, along with the usual heatwave in north and west India. Flooding of coastal cities is a risk in particular. Parts of cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata, Surat and Kakinada are at risk of being under water by 2050. (Climate Central, 2019).

The climate crisis, thus, is here.

India’s policymakers need to come to terms with the climatic and geographic heterogeneity of India’s cities — there are at least 50 cities with a population above a million. Many of these, for instance

The Hindustan Times
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