Environment minister Prakash Javadekar releases CSE's new publication on climate change adaptation

2014 globally the hottest year ever. In India, 2001-10 was the warmest decade on record – says the book

With 33 per cent of the world’s poor who will be worst affected by the changing climate, India is sitting on a ticking time-bomb

Javadekar commends CSE for bringing out the publication. Wants CSE to document many more such case studies

Says Rs 100 crore budget earmarked by the Indian government for the climate adaptation fund

New Delhi, December 19, 2014: The year 2014 is well on its way to being declared the hottest year ever in the world – and as it draws to a close, a new publication from Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) seems to enforce the stark truth that stares all of us in the face: we are doomed if we don’t act sincerely and soon enough.

Rising to the Call: Good practices of climate change adaptation in India – as the book is titled – was unveiled here today by Prakash Javadekar, the minister of environment, forests and climate change (independent charge). The release was followed by a panel discussion moderated by CSE director general Sunita Narain. The panelists included some of the key contributors and authors of the book.

Rising to the Call, say its authors, is a collection of case studies from all over India on climate variability, the impact it has on lives and livelihoods, and how communities are responding and successfully adapting to them.

Changes in climate are having serious impacts on natural and human systems across the world. Temperatures have risen, major crops in tropical and temperate regions are seeing a decline in productivity. Changes in rainfall patterns and melting snow and ice have altered hydrological systems, affecting the quality and quantity of water resources.

Weather extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones and wildfires, have also gone up. Ill health is expected to increase in many regions, especially in developing countries with low incomes. Says Chandra Bhushan, CSE’s deputy director general and the lead author of the book: “Climate change has begun to hurt India. Cyclone Phailin (2013) alone led to a loss of more than Rs 20,000 crore. The government of India estimates for 2012 suggest that expenditure on adaptation to climate variability exceeds 2.6 per cent of the GDP, with agriculture, water resources, health and sanitation, forests, coastal zone infrastructure and extreme events being specific areas of concern.”

He adds: “These costs will only rise with increasing frequency of extreme weather events. In a recent speech, the prime minister of India seemed to suggest that in 2014, India is spending over 6 per cent of its GDP on adapting to the consequences of climate change, while an Asian Development Bank report suggests these costs would rise to a little under 10 per cent of the GDP.”

India is home to 33 per cent of the world’s poor – this is more than all the poor people of all the Least Developed Countries put together. These people are mostly dependent on agriculture, forest produce, fisheries and animal husbandry. These sectors are already dealing with high levels of climate variability, which will worsen with climate change, exacerbating the vulnerability of these poor and impoverished billions.

Javadekar, who was also the chief guest of today’s event, said: “The government is passionate about climate change. To kickstart its adaptation plans, a Rs 100 crore budget has been earmarked.” He also pointed out that India was positive and proactive in Lima (20th Conference of Parties on climate change), and “fought the battle for the developing world”.

Releasing the book with Javadekar, Sunita Narain said: “This book is a first-of-its kind attempt to examine adaptation with an ear to the ground, with valuable insights for developing countries in the region and beyond. It looks into why some actions worked, and what were the challenges and enabling conditions.”

•    For more on this and on CSE’s work on climate change, please contact Arjuna Srinidhi of CSE’s climate change unit arjuna@cseindia.org / 7276677295