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