Urban India must prepare for the climate crisis: analysis
The recent outbreak of forest fires in Australia, caused by a prolonged drought, has devastated its local flora and fauna. Meanwhile, just across the Timor Sea, the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, witnessed record floods with little seasonal rains, displacing tens of thousands. Closer to home, cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have witnessed more days of temperatures above 35 ° C.In the last decade they did it in the past. The average temperatures in India increased 0.6 ° CBetween 1910 and 2018.
In 2018, India suffered more than 2,081 deaths from extreme weather events caused by weather, with an economic loss of more than $ 37.8 billion (approximately three times the losses of 2017). In particular, in 2018 there were heavy floods in Kerala, combined with tropical cyclones such as Gaja and Titli, along with the usual heat wave in northern and western India. Floods in coastal cities are a particular risk. Parts of cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Surat and Kakinada run the risk of being underwater by 2050. (Climate Central, 2019).
The climate crisis, therefore, is here.
The political leaders of India must accept the climatic and geographical heterogeneity of the cities of India: there are at least 50 cities with a population of over one million. Many of these, for example, Chennai and Mumbai, are vulnerable to the climate crisis, given their geographical location. And yet, sustainable action against the climate crisis has not been prominent on the city’s planning agenda until recently.
A chain of waste management initiatives started in Mumbai, Surat and Kolkata. The Smart Cities Mission has been an initial welcome step to address the climate crisis. Similarly, the Refrigeration Action Plan of India aims to reduce the demand for refrigeration by 25% and the demand for refrigerant by 25-30% by 2038.
Our urban development approach must change, moving away from a first development approach. We need to adopt a co-benefit approach, looking for mutually beneficial solutions that can help save conflicts between different political agendas. Such an approach could lead to better access to energy, waste management, cleaner air and job creation. Consider Kolkata. One study found that the city could reduce its carbon emission by 21%, in all sectors, by 2025, with investments that have an investment recovery period of four years. Reinvesting the profits from such an investment would lead to a greater reduction of carbon emissions for the city. This is not an unknown approach for us. India’s National Action Plan for Climate Change (2008) integrates this approach.
In addition, cities must begin to plan and enact initiatives to mitigate the climate crisis urgently. Cities must stop paving on water-absorbing ground or build on natural floodplains. Urban initiatives should incorporate the planning of events such as heat waves. This is no longer a public health problem.
It is necessary to coordinate with the municipal departments on work, drinking water and energy. This will also require the collection of additional data and research at the city level. Most coastal urban highway projects continue to use 20th-century reports (between 1878 and 1993) that forecast sea level increases of 1.27 mm per year. Meanwhile, according to the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa, the average increase in sea level in India increased to 3.2 mm per year in the period 1993-2012.
On a broader level, we also need to renew our real estate markets, ensuring that the climate crisis emerges as a price signal. We must encourage local builders to take into account issues such as sea level rise and climate crisis in their risk analysis, while focusing on future-proof retail assets (for example, building them on stilts or enclosing them in the Water). absorbent gardens). The impact of the climate crisis will affect urban landscapes throughout the geography of India.
Given that India’s population is expected to increase to 1.7 billion in 2065, most of them urban, the demand for habitable cities will be difficult to adjust with the first development agenda. The right set of investments in climate mitigation will help our cities be resilient, helping them cope with climatic extremes, be it a reduction in water supply or a heat wave. Systemic support to our cities, with downward empowerment at the municipal level, can help move India beyond the urban insecurity induced by the climate crisis. By adapting and mitigating them at the right time, we can avoid an upcoming crisis.
Varun Gandhi is a deputy of Lok Sabha
The opinions expressed are personal.