Climate change to hit Karnataka harder than other states: Experts

Climate change to hit Karnataka harder than other states: Experts

Climate experts have warned that Karnataka is likely to be more vulnerable to climate change in India than other states. A report, ‘Transitioning towards climate-resilient development in Karnataka,’ has been prepared by 26 experts from institutions based in Karnataka (including Bengaluru), London and New Delhi under the leadership of Prof N H Ravindranath and Prof G Bala of IISc, to alert the State government to act fast to reduce consequences of climate change.

Apart from experts from IISc, experts from the UAS, Bengaluru, the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bengaluru, the Integrated Natural Resources Management Consultants, New Delhi, and the London School of Economics - India Observatory, have all contributed in preparing this report on climate change impact for Karnataka. The preparation of such a comprehensive report using the latest techniques at the State-level in India is unprecedented, the experts say.

The report is a culmination of the work of 14 years. The experts have stated clearly that Karnataka would suffer heavily. The State, they point out, has 68 per cent of its farmland without irrigation, frequent droughts, a large share of its electricity being generated by hydro projects and some regions facing severe and perennial water shortage.

They point out that in terms of areas prone to drought, Karnataka is next only to Rajasthan - 54 per cent of the State’s geographical area is drought prone, which is about 88 of 176 taluks and 18 of 30 districts.

“There is adequate evidence to show that climate change has already affected crop productivity, forest bio-diversity, hydrological processes and human health adversely,” the experts have argued.

The specific impact they say is in terms of warming. Most parts of Karnataka could experience 1.5-2 degree Celsius warming relative to the level during the pre-industrial period (1880s) by as early as the 2030s under the likely high-emissions scenario. Water yield in the part of the Cauvery basin in Karnataka is projected to increase by about 35 per cent, according to an hydrological model.

Dependable flow in many reservoirs would be 75 per cent to 90 per cent by the middle of the present century. Also, parts of Cauvery basin (in Hassan, Mandya and Mysuru districts) will experience severe water stress by the same time. Reduced availability of surface water, higher water stress for crops, floods and drought make the affected districts particularly vulnerable to climate change. Kalaburagi, Raichur and Yadgir would be the worst-hit.

Assessment of the impact of climate change on five key crops of Karnataka shows that the yield of rice, maize, sorghum, red gram and ragi is likely to decline by the 2030s, setting off a food crisis.

In Karnataka, forest and bio-diversity types will experience change by the 2030s. The implication is that future climate may not be suitable for the existing forest types and bio-diversity and can result in forest dieback.

 The consequences are severe for the flow of ecosystem services and for bio-diversity. In the Western Ghats, both evergreen and deciduous forests are likely to be seriously threatened.

The Bangalore Climate Change Initiative-Karnataka, in collaboration with Global Green Growth Institute, Seoul, South Korea has now completed phase 1 of the project aimed at promoting climate-resilient development of Karnataka.

The team has alerted that the State needs to develop and implement coping strategies to deal with the current climate variability and build long-term resilience to long-term climate change.

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