03/03/2023, 14.03
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Climate change threatens India's infrastructure

A report by the Cross Dependency Initiative recommends greater investment in climate adaptation and resilience. In addition to India, the top 50 positions are occupied mainly by regions in China and the United States. Some of the most successful initiatives against extreme climate change come from below.

Milan (AsiaNews) – Nine Indian states are among the top 50 most vulnerable regions in the world in terms of climate change impact on local infrastructure, this according to a recently published report by the Cross Dependency Initiative (XDI).

The study, which recommends greater investments in climate adaptation, notes that some of the most successful initiatives start from residents.

Addressed to banks and investors, it surveyed 2,639 regions and ranked them according to what the XDI calls "gross domestic climate risk”, based on an assessment of infrastructure risks from the effects of climate change between now and 2050.

Research shows that many Indian, Chinese and US regions are at the top of the list of the most vulnerable regions.

The assessment was made looking at eight climate change issues, including river and coastal flooding, extreme heat, forest fires, drought-related soil movement, extreme winds, and freeze thaw.

The ranking is based on the aggregate damage ratio, which refers to the annual average loss from properties damaged by extreme weather events as a fraction of replacement cost of that property.

The Indian state of Bihar comes in 22nd place, followed by Uttar Pradesh (25), Assam (28) and Rajasthan (32). Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, and Kerala are also among the top spots.

In these territories, “a larger proportion of total built-up area will be subject to damage from climate change and extreme weather, even if the extent of that area may be small,” the report reads.

The report also analysed the extent of percentage increase of damages between 1990 and 2050.

The top spot in this list goes to the Laccadive Archipelago, while Assam is 22nd with a 331 per cent increase in damage, followed by Bihar (141 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (96 per cent) and Maharashtra (81 per cent).

Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland are among the top places, in 28th and 30th position respectively.

In India, floods are the main climate risk, noted XDI spokesperson Georgina Woods, during the report’s launch.

“The results of our modelling underscore the importance of pricing physical risk of climate change in financial markets, of increasing finance for global adaptation,” she told the Mondagay-India. In fact, “only a small proportion of investment in infrastructure is made with climate resilience in mind.”

These results are confirmed by another study, published in December 2022 by the Climate Policy Initiative, a non-profit research group, according to which for every dollar spent on "climate-resilient infrastructure", 87 are spent on infrastructure projects that do not integrate any climate resilience principle.

According to this report, which argues for greater investment in climate resilience, the damage caused by natural disasters in the early part of last year cost a total of US$ 75 billion worldwide, 22 per cent more than the average of the past decade.

In India, economic losses from environmental damage jumped by 45 per cent in 20 years, while in 2018, floods and landslides damaged 25 per cent of state roads in Kerala.

But in addition to investment, effective climate protection also comes from bottom-up initiatives.

In Maharashtra, residents of the village Kondgaon-Sakharpa set up the Kajli River Conservation Committee in 2019. The river is 72 kilometres long and every year, during the monsoon season, floods the villages located along its banks.

However, since residents removed debris and rebuilt its levees in 2021, the village of 5,000 has not been subjected to flooding.

“Having acquired the permission from the district authorities for undertaking the river rejuvenation, we started raising funds from the village residents,” a local resident explained. “However, within a couple of months, the pandemic set in and a lockdown was declared, forcing us to pause the work.”

Residents later asked for technical support from the Naam Foundation, a local NGO. Work began in February 2021 and ended in May:

“While Naam Foundation provided us with the earthmovers, we (the residents) took care of the diesel required for the machines. We also took care of the lodging, boarding, food and remuneration of the workers,” said a local man who supervised the work at the site.

Now there is talk of a “Sakharpa model" and the village has held some workshops open to environmentalists from nearby villages to show how the project protects the river.


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