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The costs of climate change in India: a review of the climate-related risks facing India, and their economic and social costs

Literature reviews

Written by Angela Picciariello, Sarah Colenbrander, Rathin Roy

India is already feeling the impacts of climate change. Heatwaves are becoming more common and severe; heavy rain events have increased threefold since 1950; and rising sea levels are posing new risks as a third of India’s population live along the coast. Low-income and other marginalised groups are most vulnerable to these hazards.

This literature review finds that the economic costs of climate impacts in India are already immense. In 2020, a single event – Cyclone Amphan – affected 13 million people and caused over $13 billion in damage after it made landfall. One study suggests that declining agricultural productivity and rising cereal prices could increase India’s national poverty rate by 3.5% by 2040 compared to a zero-warming scenario; this equates to around 50 million more poor people that year.

Lower-carbon development could yield immediate benefits such as cleaner air, greater energy security and rapid job creation. India’s climate targets are considered to be ‘2°C compatible’, i.e. a fair share of global effort. However, pursuing a cleaner, more resource-efficient path could stimulate a faster, fairer economic recovery and secure India’s prosperity and competitiveness in the long term.

Authors: Angela Picciariello, Sarah Colenbrander, Amir Bazaz and Rathin Roy