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Opinion

India lost 118 billion working hours due to heat in ’19: study

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India recorded the largest loss of working hours or productivity due to extreme heat in 2019. Worldwide, a potential 302 billion working hours were lost in 2019, 103 billion hours more than hours lost in 2000 .

Just 13 countries accounted for 80.7% of global work hours lost in 2019, with India recording the highest total loss and Cambodia the highest per capita loss of any country. India lost 118.3 billion work hours and 111.2 work hours per person in 2019 alone, according to the Lancet Countdown report on health and climate change released Thursday morning.

By 2015, the estimated revenue loss due to heat stress reached as high as 3.9% to 5.9% of gross domestic product (GDP) for lower-middle-income countries followed by the Lancet authors, including India, Indonesia and Cambodia.

In 2019, India also experienced a record number of days of heat wave exposure above the baseline that affected people over the age of 65. Over the past 20 years, there has been a 53.7% increase in heat-related deaths globally among people 65 and older, reaching a total of 296,000 deaths in 2018. The highest number of deaths among the elderly in 2018 it was reported in China (62,000) and India (31,000 deaths) followed by Germany, the United States, Russia and Japan.

“There is an increase in the intensity, duration and extent of heat waves in South Asia, particularly in the India-Pakistan region,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, citing a study by the Institute. Indio de Tecnología, Kharagpur, as a prediction of an increase in heat waves up to six times in a 2 ° Celsius warming scenario.

“This means that the health impacts due to increasing heat waves would also be great. While we have an excellent weather forecasting system, we also need to work on health forecasting systems, ”Koll ​​said.

The report warned that the footprint of climate change on extreme weather events was now clear. Advances in climate science allow for greater precision and certainty in attribution, he said, adding that studies from 2015 to 2020 have shown the footprint of climate change in 76 floods, droughts, storms and extreme temperatures.

According to the report, produced by 120 global health and climate change academics, 40 to 60 million people in India will be exposed to a 5-meter sea level rise by the end of the century. About 67% of the world’s cities surveyed expected climate change to seriously compromise their public health assets and infrastructure.

The report concluded that “the window of opportunity is narrow and, if the response to Covid-19 is not fully and directly aligned with national climate change strategies, the world will not be able to fulfill its commitments under the Paris Agreement, damaging the health and health systems today and in the future ”.

The report underscored that Covid-19 and climate change were interrelated crises. “The pandemic has shown us that when health is threatened on a global scale, our economies and ways of life can come to a standstill,” said Ian Hamilton, CEO of the Lancet Countdown, in a statement.

Vivek Adhia, Country Director for India at the Institute for Sustainable Communities, said: “Even as we were measuring to address existing development gaps, the Covid-19 pandemic further underscored the implications with higher risks, in the most vulnerable districts. “.

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