New Delhi: If the world warms up by 4°Celsius, there is 30% probability that temperatures will be so high that even moderate outdoor work cannot be carried out in the hottest month in northern India, a study on the risks of climate change has said. There would also be a 40% chance that individuals in northern India will not be able to participate in competitive outdoor activities in summertime if the global average temperature rises on an average by 1°C.
An international group of climate scientists, energy analysts and experts from finance and military recently released an independent assessment of the risks of climate change commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The report was the result of a collaboration between Harvard University Center for the Environment, Tsinghua University, China, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and Cambridge University Centre for the Study of Existential Risk.
“The most important decision any government has to make about climate change is one of priority—how much effort to expend on countering it, relative to the effort that must be spent on other issues. This risk assessment aims to inform that decision. In a year when important climate negotiations are scheduled, this kind of multi-country risk assessment hopes to inform a wide range of stakeholders about the risks for which human societies need to prepare,” said Arunabha Ghosh, chief executive officer, CEEW and one of the lead co-authors of the report.
The study also said that on a high emission pathway, flooding in the Ganges basin could be six times more frequent, becoming a one in five year event over the course of the century. It also said that with one metre of global sea level rise, the probability of what is now a “100-year flood event” becomes about 1000 times more likely in Kolkata.
The assessment considers three key areas—the future pathway of global emissions, the direct risks arising from the climate’s response to those emissions, and the risks arising from the interaction of climate change with complex human systems. The report suggests that the largest risks of climate change may be those that are magnified by the interactions of people, markets and governments.
It finds that migration from some regions of the world could become “more a necessity than a choice” and that the risks of state failure could rise significantly affecting many countries simultaneously. The report recommends applying the principles of risk assessment to climate change, broadening participation in the climate risk assessment process beyond just climate scientists, and reporting to the highest decision making authorities at the national and international levels.