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India faces warming climate, study says

Nov. 17, 2010 at 11:20 AM   |   Comments

NEW DELHI, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- India could become 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by 2030 compared to 1970s levels, leading to changes in rainfall patterns and more severe floods and droughts, a new study says.

The "Climate Change and India: a 4x4 Assessment" study addresses agriculture, water, natural ecosystems and biodiversity as well as health in four climate sensitive-regions in India: the Himalayas, the Western Ghats, coastal areas and the northeast.

Conducted by 220 Indian scientists and 120 research institutions for the Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment, a governmental organization, the study predicts an increase in rainfall, particularly in the Himalayas, with extreme precipitation to increase by up to 10 days in all regions of India.

While occurrences of cyclones are expected to decrease, the report says, the storms are expected to increase in intensity.

The report says droughts are expected to become worse in the Himalayan region, with flooding likely to worsen by around 10 to 30 percent in all other regions.

The sea level along India's 4,660-mile coast has been rising at a rate of 0.05 of an inch a year and is likely to continue in tandem with future rises of the global sea level, the report says.

As for health, the incidence of malaria will increase in the Himalayan region though it will come down in the coastal belts by 2030 because of changes in moisture and temperatures caused by climate change.

"There is no country in the world that is as vulnerable, on so many dimensions, to climate change as India is," Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said following the release of the report on Tuesday, Press Trust of India reports. "This makes it imperative for us to have sound evidence-based assessments on the impact of climate change."

The study comes ahead of the U.N. climate summit beginning Nov. 29 in Cancun, Mexico, where nations will attempt again to reach a global agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Ramesh has recently signaled a willingness to tone down India's demands in Cancun, after having been blamed, along with China, for preventing the adoption of a legally binding agreement at the U.N. summit in Denmark last December.

"We are running out of time. Cancun is the last chance. The credibility of the climate-change mechanism is at stake," said Ramesh, India's Daily News & Analysis reported last week.

"All the countries have made changes in their positions, barring a couple of developed ones, and shown considerable flexibility," he said.

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