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Prelims Capsule


Impact of Climate Change on Extreme Weather Events around the world

Impact of Climate Change on Extreme Weather Events around the world


  • GS 3 || Environment || Climate Change || Climate Change

What is climate change?

  • The periodic modification of Earth’s climate brought about due to the changes in the atmosphere as well as the interactions between the atmosphere and various other geological, chemical, biological, and geographical factors within the Earth’s system is called Climate change.

Recent Extreme Weather Events around the world

  • An unprecedented heatwave drove temperatures across Canada and parts of the United States to record highs, resulting in hundreds of deaths.
  • The recent floods in Germany, which killed over 180 people.
  • Flooding has also been reported in several Asian countries, including China, India, and Indonesia.
    • China sees severe flooding every year, causing loss of life and property. However, over the years, the impact has worsened with climate change. The death toll has reached near 400.
  • Tauktae and Yaas, cyclones that hit India’s west and east coasts, respectively.
  • Cyclone Amphan which affected countries in the Bay of Bengal and caused maximum damage within coastal districts of West Bengal of India displaced 4.9 million people accounting for the biggest displacement due to an extreme weather event anywhere in the world in 2020.

Case studies related to the climate change

  • Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 419 parts per million (ppm) in May 2021 was the highest level in 63 years. This was recorded in the NOAA’s Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory using Keeling Curve.
  • According to the NOAA’s Climate Extremes Index, the area in the Southwest are experiencing extremely high temperatures in summer over the last 20 years, with very little relief in the last six years.
  • According to the Climate Science Special Report, global temperatures are likely to continue to increase due to the release of greenhouse gases.
    • According to a report, temperatures at the Earth’s poles are rising at two to three times the temperature at the equator. This weakens the jet stream of the mid-latitudes, situated over Europe.
    • During summer and autumn, the weakening of the jet stream has a causal effect resulting in slower-moving storms. This can result in more severe and longer-lasting storms with increased intensity.
  • A 2016 study stated that human-induced global warming has contributed to the increased frequency and intensity of cyclonic storms over the Arabian Sea.
  • The Indian Ocean is heating up at a faster pace in comparison to the Pacific or the Atlantic.
  • Western parts of the Indian Ocean are warming up even more.
  • Many studies have found that a rise in the temperature of the sea surface is related to the changes in the intensity and frequency of cyclones.
  • World bank report-Climate change could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 by disrupting agriculture and fueling the spread of malaria and other diseases, theWorld Bank said in a report.
  • An International Report titled “Counting the cost 2020: A year of climate breakdown” has been released by Christian aid, relief, and humanitarian agency based in London.
    • The report listed the 15 most destructive climate disasters of 2020 that cumulatively had an expenditure tag of around $150 billion calculated only on insured losses.

Why is climate change relevant to India?

  • One of the most vulnerable-India is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. It has one of the highest economic activity densities in the world, as well as a large number of poor people who rely on the natural resource base for a living, with a high reliance on rainfall. Pressure on India’s water, air, soil, and forests is expected to be the highest in the world by
  • Havoc through Water resources -One of the most significant ways in which climate change will affect people’s lives in India is through its water resources. While water is necessary for life, it also causes havoc through devastating floods and droughts. Climate change will only exacerbate these shocks.
    • It is estimated that by the 2050s, with a temperature increase of 2-2.5°C, water in the river basins of Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra will be reduced. This may threaten the food security of about 63 million people.
  • Poverty-The poverty reduction rate will also be slowed down due to the rise in the atmospheric temperature.
    • Poor will be more vulnerable to climate change since many of them are dependent on rain-dependent agriculture.
    • An increase of 2°C by the 2040s is going to affect crop production and will reduce the crop output by 12%, requiring more imports to meet the domestic demands.

The Future of Earth, 2020 report

  • The ‘Future of Earth, 2020’ report’s five key global risks:
    • Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation:Report aptly highlighted that humanity’s response to this crisis, including the 2015 Paris Agreement, has not been sufficient to halt climate change.
      • Despite declarations of a climate crisis or climate emergency by the leaders of more than 700 cities, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during 2019 reached more than 415 ppm.
    • Extreme weather:Forest fires, floods, droughts, cyclones has become a new normal. The five years from 2014 to 2018 were the warmest recorded over land and ocean since 1880.
      • Across Europe and India, unprecedented heatwaves brought temperatures higher than a scorching 45°C.
    • Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse: Climate change and global warming is destroying habitat, rapidly and dramatically shifting ecosystems. In 2018, the world’s last male northern white rhino died in his Kenyan enclosure, while the Brazilian blue parrot was declared extinct in the wild.
    • Food crises: Extreme weather events such as heatwaves or droughts impact crop production. For example, after the 2012 heatwave in the United States, maize yields dropped by 13%.
      • Changing rainfall patterns predicted by many climate change scenarios are expected to make food crises more frequent and more severe.
    • Water crises: Climatic Conditions are driving water shortages and power outages. Water tables are declining due to overuse especially for agriculture and the population exposed to heat and water stress is 50% higher than ever.

India’s response to climate change

  • The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) outlines current and future climate mitigation and adaptation policies and programs.
    • Solar Energy; Enhanced Energy Efficiency; Sustainable Habitat; Water; Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem; Green India; Sustainable Agriculture; and Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change are identified as eight-core “national missions” that will run through 2017.
    • The majority of these missions have strong adaptation requirements.
  • National Clean Energy Fund: In 2010, the Government of India established the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) to finance and promote clean energy initiatives, as well as to fund research in the field of clean energy in the country.
    • The fund’s corpus is built by levying a cess of INR 50 (subsequently increased to INR 100 in 2014) per tonne of domestic or imported coal.
  • Paris Agreement: India has made three commitments under the Paris Agreement. By 2030, India’s greenhouse gas emission intensity of GDP will be reduced by 33-35 percent below 2005 levels.
    • In addition, non-fossil fuels would account for 40% of India’s power capacity.
    • Simultaneously, India will create an additional ‘carbon sink’ of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through increased forest and tree cover by 2030.
  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA) was launched on November 30, 2015, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris by India and France.
  • Emission Standards for the Bharat Stage (BS): Vehicle emissions are one of the leading causes of air pollution, prompting the government at the time to implement the BS 2000 (Bharat Stage 1) vehicle emission norms in April 2000, followed by BS-II in 2005. In 2010, BS-III was rolled out across the country. However, in 2016, the government decided to follow global best practices and skip BS V entirely to jump to BS-VI standards.
  • Systems in place to tackle extreme weather events
    • Meteorological predictions
    • Contingency fund
    • Early warning to citizens
    • NDMA has issued an action plan for the Prevention and Management of Heat Waves.
    • Remote sensing satellites.

Way forward

  • Global climate action has been ‘mitigation-centric,’ with the majority of programs (such as a push for renewable energy and electric vehicles) aimed at slowing future global warming.
  • Mitigation is more important in developed countries, but for developing countries like India, the focus should be on adaptation, or measures taken to deal with the unavoidable effects of climate change that have already occurred, such as severe storms, floods, and droughts.
  • Adaptative measures- As climate change processes already are underway, efforts also must focus on assessing current and future vulnerabilities and identifying necessary interventions or adaptation options. Adaptation has the potential to reduce the adverse effects of climate change but is not expected to prevent all damages.
    • Therefore, early planning for health is essential to reduce, hopefully, avoid, near future and longer-term health impacts of global climate change. The optimal solution, however, is in the hands of governments, society, and every individual—a commitment for a change in values to enable a full transition to sustainable development.

 Mains model Question

  • Extreme weather events have become more common in recent years around the world. Do you believe that climate change is the sole cause of the increase in such extreme events? Examine.