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Global warming to dry up rivers, inundate cities

DECCAN Chronicle, Hyderabad, 20th June, 2013

India’s summer monsoon will become highly unpredictable if the world’s average temperature rises by 2ºC in the next two-three decades, a scientific report commissioned by the World Bank says.

The report released in the national capital on Wednesday focuses on the likely impacts of warming between 2ºC and 4ºC on agricultural production, water resources, coastal ecosystems and cities across South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia.

The report titled Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and Case for Resilience  warns that by the 2040s, India will see a significant reduction in crop yields because of extreme heat.

“An extreme wet monsoon that currently has a chance of occurring only once in 100 years is projected to occur every 10 years by the end of the century,” the report says. The report also predicts substantial reduction in the flow of the Indus and the Brahmaputra in late spring and summer.

It is estimated that by the 2050s, with a temperature increase of 2ºC-2.5ºC, water for agricultural production in the river basins of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra will reduce further and may impact food adequacy for 63 million people.

The report, prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics and peer reviewed by 25 scientists worldwide, says the consequences for South Asia are even worse if global temperatures increased by an average of 4ºC by 2090.

In this scenario, seen as likely unless action is taken now to limit carbon emissions, South Asia would suffer more extreme droughts and floods, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and declines in food production.

Many of the worst climate impacts could still be avoided by holding warming below 2ºC, but the window for action is narrowing rapidly, the report says. “In order to minimise the impacts of a changing climate, we need to ensure that our cities become climate resilient, that we develop climate-smart agriculture practices, and find innovative ways to improve both energy efficiency and the performance of renewable energies,” Onno Ruhl, World Bank country director in India, says in the report.

World Bank: Poverty to be fought through ‘climate lens’

The World Bank says it will increasingly view its efforts to help developing countries fight poverty through a “climate lens.”

“Urgent action is needed to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to help countries prepare for a world of dramatic climate change and weather extremes,” World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said adding, “We are stepping up our mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk management work, and will increasingly look at all our business through a ‘climate lens’.”

Bank vice-president Rachel Kyte said the World Bank doubled its lending aimed at adaptation efforts to $4.6 billion in 2012. The developed countries have pledged to ramp that financing up to $100 billion annually by 2020.