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October 14, 2002 | 1252 IST
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India's GDP to be impacted by global warming

With earth's temperature rising and leading to increase in sea level, climatic change will have serious impact on agriculture, economy and human health, an issue, which will be hotly debated at an international meet in New Delhi later in November.

The discussion is important for India as an increase in global temperature can result in fall in food production and decline in India's Gross Domestic Product by a significant 4.9 per cent in this century according to the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change.

Billed to be the largest-ever international gathering in India, the 8th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, beginning on October 23, will be attended by 186 countries.

The conference assumes significance as it comes shortly after the Global Summit on Environment in South Africa, which was sharply divided on the issue of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

Without emission control policies, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide is expected to increase from the present 367 particles per million to 490-1260 particles per million by the end of the century, the IPCC said.

Stabilising carbon dioxide concentrations at 450 ppm, a major issue the conclave will have to deal with, will require worldwide emissions to fall below 1990 level.

Developed countries are primarily responsible for the current high levels of concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere but are in a position to absorb the impact of climate change on account of their economc strength.

There is no unanimity on the issue of reduction in emission of greenhouse gases, which is a matter of concern as climate change is a global issue whose impact is not limited to any specific country or region.

Earth's temperature has increased by 0.6 per cent in the 20th century.

Temperature increase by more than 2.5 per cent will reduce global food production resulting in significant increase in food prices.

Moreover the GDP of the US, European Union, Africa and India can reduce by 0.5, 2.8, 3.9, and 4.9 per cent respectively.

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and severity of heat waves and more intense rainfall leading to greater flooding. Intensity of tropical cyclones will also worsen.

It will reduce ice cover of the seas, 14 per cent fall of which in the Arctic and 25 per cent in the Antarctic has already been recorded.

While the mid and high latitudes of Northern Hemisphere receive heavy rains and snow, tropics and sub-tropics will suffer from declining rains. Water availability in the large basins of Africa has already declined.

As a result 1.7 billion people accounting for one-third of the world's population live in water-stressed countries, which is expected to rise to five billion by 2025.

Climate change will also impact human health in the form of increased incidence of vector borne diseases like malaria.

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