New Delhi: The recently-concluded climate change talks in Lima failed to catalyze any optimism for the next round at Paris 2015, signalling little hope for India that is already reeling under extreme weather patterns, experts said.
Time is of essence for India that ranked among top 20 in the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about countries most at risk from extreme weather events, the experts told IANS.
Effects of climate change are already evident in India, environmentalist Rajendra Shende told IANS.
Increased intensity, increased number, and increased frequency of erratic weather patterns are crucial indicators, he said.
Eight out of the ten warmest years in India were between 2001 and 2010, making it the warmest decade on record, said Arjuna Srinidhi who is managing the climate change programme at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
"Here is a higher frequency of warm years in the recent past which is why we are saying there is global warming, the biggest contributor to climate change," he added.
Short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) such as soot and methane that emanate from the large-scale crop burning in north India are cooking the Himalayas along with global warming that is causing the glacial retreat and a rapid surge in the Himalayan river systems.
A skewed water table in the Himalayan region could potentially affect about four billion people in India, China, Bangladesh, and other neighbouring countries, said Shende who heads the Terre Policy Centre.
Even a one-metre surge in the sea level due to a three-degree Celsius rise in the global temperature would be enough to cause significant climate-induced changes in the coastal regions of India and the neighbouring countries.
'Climate refugee' is a potential threat that India must account for, said environment activist Raghunandan.
Countries like Bangladesh will be worst-hit by a surge in the sea level, resulting in large-scale displacement of people in the coastal region. And those displaced will take refuge in India, affecting as many as 10 million people in South Asia, he said.
The arrival of the monsoon in northern and eastern India has also been affected by climate change. Raghunandan said he was worried at the drop in number of cold days and summers that have unusually long spells nowadays.
"This is a trend that will only intensify," he said.
According to a study by the CSE, India experienced the entire spectrum of extreme weather conditions in the recent past. Frequent flash floods in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Assam, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar; successive cyclones like Hudhud in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha; and intense episodes of rainfall in typically dry/arid regions are sharp indicators of the presence of climate change in India.
The heat waves in 2014 were above normal in parts of Rajasthan, Odisha and northeastern states the study said, adding that it claimed more than 500 lives in Andhra Pradesh with 169 people dying of intense heat wave in Hyderabad alone.
As many as 73 reportedly died of sweltering summer heat in just seven days during June in Delhi this year, the study said.
Terming global warming as an “atmospheric chaos”, Shende said it must be addressed to ward off the irreversible dangers that people may face in the future.