Climate change will make monsoons unpredictable. As a result, rain-fed wheat cultivation in South Asia will suffer in a big way. Total cereal production will go down. The crop yield per hectare will be hit badly, causing food insecurity and loss of livelihood.
The rising levels of the sea in the coastal areas will damage nursery areas for fisheries, causing coastal erosion and flooding.
The Arctic regions, Sub-Saharan Africa, small islands and Asian mega deltas, including the Ganga and Brahmaputra, will be affected most.
Changes in climate around the globe are expected to trigger a steep fall in the production of cereals, says R K Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC. He estimated that a rise of 0.5 degree celsius in winter tempratures could cause a 0.45 tonne per hectare fall in India's wheat production. The average per hectare production in India is 2.6 tonnes.
Worse still, Pachauri said, total agricultural land will shrink and the available land may not remain suitable for the present crops for too long. Farmers have to explore options of changing crops suitable to weather. He also pointed out that climatic changes could lead to major food security issues for a country like India.
The report also predicts huge coastal erosion due to a rise in sea levels of about 40 cm resulting from faster melting of glaciers in the Himalayan and Hindukush ranges. It can affect half-a-million people in India because of excessive flooding in coastal areas and also can increase the salinity of ground water in the Sunderbans and surface water in coastal areas.
India needs to sustain an 8 to 10 per cent economic growth rate, over the next 25 years, if it is to eradicate poverty and meet its human development goals, according to a 2006 report on an integrated energy policy prepared by an expert committee of the Planning Commission. Consequently, the country needed at the very least to increase its primary energy supply three or four -fold over the 2003-04 level.
India's economic growth would "necessarily involve increase in (greenhouse gas) emissions from the current extremely low levels." Any constraints on such emissions by India, whether direct, by way of emission targets, or indirect would reduce growth rates, the report stated. However, the report also added, "India should be willing to contain her (greenhouse gas) emissions as long as she is compensated for the additional cost involved."
In his Budget speech this year, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had promised the appointment of an expert committee 'to study the impact of climate change on India and identify the measures that we may have to take in the future'. The Union government has recently constituted the committee, headed by R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Adviser to the government.