Sunday, February 18, 2007


Look closely and you will see the effects of climate change everywhere in Mumbai. Floods and storms are getting more severe, and heat waves are getting more intense. Trees are flowering earlier and insects are emerging faster. Surface temperatures are rising and melting the Himalayan glaciers. Globally, sea levels are rising. An NITIE professor spent a great deal of time analysing just how climate change will influence our city’s natural environment by 2030
Will Mumbai become an environmental victim of its own success? It has the potential to fall apart if a recent literature research by National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE) professor of economics Dr Vijaya Gupta is to be believed.
Her study, ‘Climate Change and Domestic Mitigation Efforts’, portends that a four-fold increase in the gross domestic product (GDP), under the present scenario, will lead to a marked increase in emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 2030. Gupta has stated that carbon dioxide (CO2) levels will increase by 2.8 times, methane (CH4) by 1.3 times, nitrous oxide (N2O) by 2.6 times and fluorochemical GHGs such as perflurocarbons (PFCs) and hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) by 15 times.
“Pollutants will induce climate changes that will manifest in gradual changes in temperature, precipitation, rise in sea levels, changing frequencies, intensities and durations of extreme events such as floods, droughts and vector-borne epidemics,” says Gupta.
By 2030, countrywide temperatures will rise by 2-4°C, and many regions, including Mumbai, will witness a curtailed monsoon and regular floods. Drought incidences will burden food and water resources, and there will also be increased spells of malarial outbreaks, she adds. The NITIE study examines India’s vulnerability to climatic changes by looking at hypothetical emission scenarios based on the country’s future economic growth. It states that attempts at urbanisation without tackling the issue of environmental degradation, especially in metro cities, will increase India’s share in global emission of CO2 from 3 to 9 per cent in 2050.
While this is significantly lower-than-projected emission rates for nations such as the US, China, Japan and Russia, the country’s annual rate of CO2 emissions is growing at 5.8 per cent. India, with an annual emission of 294 metric tonne, is the world’s fifth largest pollutor.
The country’s 70 per cent coal consumption contributes the most to the pollution, followed by oil at 21 per cent. Power, steel, cement and transport are the other culprits. Experts suggest that the rise in levels of vehicular and solid waste pollution were largely responsible for air pollutants. Mumbai alone has seen a four-fold rise in vehicular traffic in the past decade.


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