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UN panel warns India of severe food, water shortage (April)



Hindustan Times, Delhi, Tuesday 1st April 2014

The UN panel on climate change warned on Monday that famine, water shortage and increased regional tension could plague south Asia, especially India, if corrective steps weren’t taken soon to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The alarmist report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released on Monday, at Yokohama in Japan, and focuses on the global impact climate change would have on agriculture, water supply and society.

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri said at the report’s release.

The report comes a few months before negotiators from about 190 countries are set to resume stalled talks on a global deal to cut greenhouse emissions, in Germany.

Warning that rising temperatures could induce a major drop in production of wheat crop, a staple in India and China, the report said food security may be a big problem in the region post 2030. Shrinking Himalayan glaciers are also a worry and could lead to water shortage in the area, said the report.

“The key issue as far as India is concerned is vulnerability and exposure,” Aromar Revi, one of the lead authors of the report said.

But Indian scientists aren’t so pessimistic. They said the country might at most lose 5.8% of wheat production post 2030 in the warmer regions and that the depletion of Himalayan glaciers was not abnormally high.

Rising mercury may also shift the food bowls of the world north. In India, Ladakh may become an agriculture state.

Pushing world leaders to take action, the report said that if immediate steps weren’t taken to curb emissions, world temperatures would rise by 4°C by turn of the century and result in erratic climate patterns and food disasters. Poorer nations might see their GDP drop by 2% and competition over water may even cause war.