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Lecturrete topic 248 - Climate Change


Climate Change in India


Climate change, a defining challenge of our time, poses significant risks to economies, societies, and ecosystems worldwide. In India, a country characterized by diverse climates and vast geographic expanses, the impacts of climate change are particularly pronounced. From erratic monsoons and heatwaves to rising sea levels and glacial melt, the manifestations of climate change are multifaceted and profound. This article explores the impacts of climate change in India, the contributing factors, current mitigation and adaptation efforts, and the future outlook, highlighting the importance of coordinated action to address this pressing issue.

The Impact of Climate Change on India

India's unique geographical and socio-economic landscape makes it highly vulnerable to climate change. The effects are visible across various sectors, profoundly affecting agriculture, water resources, health, and livelihoods.


Agriculture, which employs nearly half of India's workforce and contributes significantly to its GDP, is highly dependent on climatic conditions. Climate change-induced alterations in temperature and precipitation patterns have led to unpredictable monsoons, prolonged droughts, and severe flooding. According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, by 2100, India's monsoon rainfall could increase by up to 10-12%, leading to more intense and frequent flooding in certain regions . Conversely, drought-prone areas are expected to experience longer dry spells, severely impacting crop yields. A study by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) predicts that wheat yields could decline by up to 18%, and rice yields by up to 6% by 2050 due to climate change .

Water Resources

India's water resources are under significant stress due to climate change. Glacial retreat in the Himalayas threatens the flow of major rivers like the Ganges, Indus, and Brahmaputra, which are lifelines for millions of people. The World Bank estimates that India could face a 6% GDP loss by 2050 due to water scarcity exacerbated by climate change . Additionally, rising sea levels threaten coastal aquifers, leading to saline intrusion and reducing the availability of freshwater for agriculture and drinking purposes.


The health impacts of climate change in India are profound, with rising temperatures contributing to heat-related illnesses and vector-borne diseases. The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change reported that between 1990 and 2019, the annual number of heatwave exposure events affecting people over 65 in India increased by 21 million . Furthermore, the altered climate has expanded the habitat range for diseases like malaria and dengue fever, posing new public health challenges.


Climate change disproportionately affects the poor and marginalized communities in India, who rely heavily on natural resources for their livelihoods. The increased frequency of extreme weather events such as cyclones, floods, and droughts disrupts livelihoods, exacerbates poverty, and can lead to displacement. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre reported that in 2020 alone, over 3.9 million people in India were displaced due to natural disasters .

Contributing Factors to Climate Change in India

Several factors contribute to climate change in India, including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, deforestation, and industrialization.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

India is the third-largest emitter of GHGs globally, following China and the United States. In 2019, India's GHG emissions accounted for approximately 7% of the global total . The primary sources of emissions include energy production (44%), industry (22%), agriculture (16%), and transportation (11%). The heavy reliance on coal for electricity generation significantly contributes to these emissions.

Deforestation and Land Use Changes

Deforestation and land use changes are significant contributors to climate change in India. Forests, which act as carbon sinks, are being depleted at an alarming rate due to agricultural expansion, urbanization, and infrastructure development. The Forest Survey of India reported a net loss of around 38,000 hectares of forest cover between 2015 and 2017 .

Industrialization and Urbanization

Rapid industrialization and urbanization have led to increased energy consumption and pollution. Industrial processes and vehicular emissions are major sources of air pollutants and GHGs. Additionally, urban heat islands—urban areas significantly warmer than their rural surroundings due to human activities—exacerbate the impacts of climate change in cities.

Mitigation and Adaptation Efforts

Recognizing the urgent need to address climate change, India has undertaken various mitigation and adaptation initiatives at national and international levels.

National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)

Launched in 2008, the NAPCC outlines India's strategy to combat climate change through eight national missions, including the National Solar Mission, National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, and National Water Mission. These missions aim to promote renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, ensure water conservation, and enhance the sustainability of agriculture .

Renewable Energy Initiatives

India has made significant strides in promoting renewable energy, particularly solar and wind power. The government aims to achieve 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, including 100 GW from solar and 60 GW from wind . As of 2021, India had installed over 90 GW of renewable energy capacity, making it one of the largest renewable energy markets in the world .

Afforestation and Reforestation

Afforestation and reforestation efforts are crucial for enhancing carbon sequestration and combating desertification. The Green India Mission, part of the NAPCC, aims to increase forest and tree cover, restore degraded ecosystems, and enhance biodiversity. The government has also committed to restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 as part of the Bonn Challenge .

Climate-Resilient Agriculture

To mitigate the impacts of climate change on agriculture, India has introduced climate-resilient farming practices. The National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) focuses on developing crop varieties resistant to extreme weather, promoting efficient water management, and improving soil health . Additionally, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) provides crop insurance to protect farmers against climate-induced crop losses.

International Cooperation

India actively participates in international climate negotiations and agreements. It is a signatory to the Paris Agreement, committing to reduce its emissions intensity of GDP by 33-35% from 2005 levels by 2030 and to achieve 40% of its electric power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by the same year . India is also a founding member of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), which aims to promote solar energy globally.

Challenges in Addressing Climate Change

Despite the numerous initiatives, India faces several challenges in effectively addressing climate change.

Economic Constraints

As a developing country, India faces the dual challenge of sustaining economic growth while reducing emissions. Balancing the need for development and poverty alleviation with climate action requires significant financial resources. The economic impact of transitioning to a low-carbon economy can be substantial, necessitating international financial support and technology transfer.

Policy Implementation

Implementing climate policies effectively across India's vast and diverse landscape is a daunting task. Regional disparities, administrative inefficiencies, and lack of coordination among various levels of government can hinder the execution of climate initiatives. Ensuring that policies are tailored to local conditions and effectively enforced remains a critical challenge.

Public Awareness and Participation

Raising public awareness about climate change and encouraging sustainable practices is crucial for the success of climate action. While awareness has been increasing, widespread behavioral change and public participation are still lacking. Educational campaigns, community engagement, and incentives for adopting sustainable practices are necessary to drive meaningful change.

Technological and Infrastructural Barriers

Transitioning to renewable energy and climate-resilient infrastructure requires advanced technology and robust infrastructure. Access to cutting-edge technology, investment in research and development, and upgrading existing infrastructure are essential for building resilience to climate change. However, these efforts often face technological and financial constraints.

Future Outlook

India's approach to climate change is evolving, with increasing emphasis on sustainability and resilience. The future outlook hinges on several key areas:

Strengthening Renewable Energy

Continuing to expand renewable energy capacity is vital for reducing GHG emissions. Investments in solar, wind, and other renewable sources, coupled with advancements in energy storage and grid infrastructure, will play a crucial role. The government's target of achieving 450 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030 reflects this commitment .

Enhancing Climate Resilience

Building resilience to climate impacts through adaptive strategies is essential. This includes developing climate-resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable agriculture, and improving water management. Integrating climate risk assessments into planning and development processes will help communities better prepare for and respond to climate challenges.

Fostering International Collaboration

Global cooperation is imperative for addressing climate change effectively. India's leadership in initiatives like the ISA and active participation in climate negotiations underscore its commitment to international collaboration. Leveraging international support for financial resources, technology transfer, and capacity building will be crucial.

Promoting Sustainable Lifestyles

Encouraging sustainable consumption and production patterns is vital for long-term climate action. Initiatives like the "Lifestyle for Environment" (LiFE) movement, which promotes environmentally friendly practices, can drive societal change. Public awareness campaigns, incentives for green practices, and policies promoting sustainable living will be key components.


Climate change poses significant challenges for India, affecting its economy, environment, and society. However, through concerted efforts and a comprehensive approach, India is actively working towards mitigating and adapting to these impacts. The journey towards a sustainable and climate-resilient future requires continuous commitment, innovation, and collaboration at all levels. As India navigates this path, it will not only safeguard its own future but also contribute to global efforts in combating climate change, underscoring India's response to climate change exemplifies a multi-faceted approach that integrates policy initiatives, technological advancements, and community engagement. By prioritizing renewable energy, enhancing climate resilience, and fostering international cooperation, India is laying the foundation for a sustainable future.

However, addressing climate change remains a complex and evolving challenge. As India strives to meet its climate targets and build resilience, several critical areas require attention:

Policy Coherence and Implementation: Ensuring coherence across climate policies and effective implementation at all levels of governance is crucial. Strengthening institutional capacity, enhancing coordination among stakeholders, and monitoring progress are essential for achieving climate goals.

Inclusive and Just Transition: Transitioning to a low-carbon economy must be inclusive, ensuring that vulnerable communities benefit equitably from climate actions. Policies should prioritize social equity, livelihood security, and protection of indigenous knowledge and rights.

Innovation and Technology: Continued investment in research, innovation, and technology is essential for overcoming technological barriers and scaling up climate solutions. Promoting green technologies, fostering collaboration with academia and industry, and incentivizing clean technology adoption are pivotal.

International Leadership: India's role in global climate governance will be pivotal, influencing collective action and shaping international agendas. Upholding commitments under the Paris Agreement, advocating for climate justice, and leveraging platforms like the G20 and UN climate conferences are crucial diplomatic endeavors.

Public Engagement and Education: Increasing public awareness, promoting behavioral change, and fostering a culture of sustainability are integral to achieving long-term climate resilience. Education, outreach campaigns, and community participation empower individuals and communities to contribute to climate solutions.

Looking ahead, India's journey towards climate resilience is intertwined with global efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate impacts, and ensure a sustainable future for all. The challenges ahead are daunting, but India's rich diversity, resilience, and commitment to sustainable development position it as a key player in the global fight against climate change.

By harnessing its demographic dividend, advancing technological innovation, and embracing inclusive policies, India can emerge as a beacon of sustainable development and climate leadership. The path forward requires bold action, collaboration across sectors and borders, and unwavering dedication to safeguarding the planet for future generations.

In conclusion, addressing climate change in India demands collective action, innovation, and resilience. Through comprehensive strategies, policy coherence, and global collaboration, India can navigate the challenges posed by climate change and pave the way for a sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future.