Northeast most vulnerable to climate change: report

North East of India

Notwithstanding the forest cover and pristine environment they enjoy, people living in North East of India are acutely vulnerable to the dangerous consequences of climate change because the states' poor economic conditions don't empower them to fight against the odds, says India's first climate vulnerability assessment report for Himalayan states.

Examining the vulnerability of 12 states ranging from Jammu and Kashmir on the west to Tripura in the east, the report found that socio-economic factors like poor per capita income, limited crop insurance, few farmers taking loans and poor participation in rural job schemes to enhance the vulnerability of people living in the northeastern states.

On the contrary, though western Himalayan states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are more frequently exposed to earthquakes, landslides and flash floods, they are economically better armed to deal with such calamities than their eastern counterparts.

Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and the hilly districts of West Bengal in the eastern side and Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir on the western side are the states that figured in the report.

“For the first time, a common framework has been used to produce a comparable vulnerability map up to the district level,” Shyamasree Dasgupta, assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi and who is one of the authors of the report, told DH.

Prepared by the scholars at IIT Guwahati and IIT Mandi, the new report would help identify the areas where policy interventions are required and prioritise the investment, she added.

Vulnerability assessment is crucial for Himalayan states because of their sensitivity to climate change, whose impact is being felt in areas as diverse as health and agriculture.

Most of the region is undergoing a significant long-term change in the frequency and intensity of extreme temperature and rainfall events over the last decade.

While each of the 12 states carried out their own assessment in the past, the need for redoing the exercise under a common framework was felt because the existing reports are not comparable due to differences in methodologies and indicators.

“Also in 2014, the United Nations Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change in its fifth assessment modified the concept of vulnerability, which none of the states took into account while preparing their own assessments,” Dasgupta said.

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