NEW DELHI—Climate change-induced spike in average summer temperature as well as the number of extremely hot days will result in 1.5 million excess deaths per year in six of India’s biggest states by the year 2100, claims a new study conducted by the Climate Impact Lab in collaboration with the Tata Centre for Development at the University of Chicago.
As per the study, the six states and number of excess deaths projected per year by the study are: Uttar Pradesh (402,280), Bihar (136,372), Rajasthan (121,809), Andhra Pradesh (116,920), Madhya Pradesh (108,370), and Maharashtra (106,749).
It was released on Thursday in the presence of the Narendra Modi government’s water minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who endorsed the findings of the study.
According to an official statement issued by the organisers, Shekhawat said, “Climate change is upon us. We see that in the form of erratic monsoons, prolonged droughts and heatwaves. All these exacerbate several problems that we are already grappling with, including water stress. In the light of new challenges, the government is taking a multi-pronged approach. We are calling for rejuvenation of traditional water bodies, talking about giving incentive to crops that are less water-intensive and also promoting participatory groundwater management—all of which will help build India’s resilience to climate change.”
The study, according to the official statement, relies on mortality-temperature relationship estimates to generate projections of the future impacts of climate change on mortality rates.
It claims continued high emissions of greenhouse gases “are projected to lead to a 4°C rise in average annual temperature in India by 2100, with the average number of extremely hot days around the country over 35°C likely to increase by more than eight times per year from 5.1 (in 2010) to 42.8.”
The study projects Odisha to top the list of states which may witness the highest increase in the number of extremely hot days—from 1.62 in 2010 to 48.05 by 2100. The states of Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi could see significant increases in the number of extremely hot days, it says. “While Delhi
is projected to experience 22 times more extremely hot days (three to 67) by 2100, Haryana (20 times), Punjab (17 times) and Rajasthan (seven times) will not be much better off,” an official statement about the study said.
Punjab is currently the hottest state and is expected to remain at that position even in 2100 with average temperature around 36 degrees celsius per year.
Interestingly, the study also received endorsement from a member of the government’s National Disaster Management Authority. “These findings are a reminder that we have to keep making consorted, long-term efforts to build resilience to extreme heat,” said Kamal Kishore, Member, NDMA, according to the official statement.
“Since 2016, when we first published Heat Wave Guidelines, NDMA has been working to improve early warning systems for better preparedness against heatwaves at the local level. We are working with all heat prone states in the country to help strengthen their resilience against extreme heat,” said Kishore.