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Climate Change:1.5°C Global Warming Target



  Apr 18, 2024

Climate Change:1.5°C Global Warming Target



Understanding the 1.5°C Target and Its Significance for India

What is the 1.5°C target?

A goal set in the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably 1.5°C, above pre-industrial levels. This aims to minimize climate change impacts like extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and disruptions to ecosystems and agriculture.

Why is the 1.5°C target crucial for India?

India is highly vulnerable to climate change due to its diverse geography, large population, and dependence on climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture. Here's a glimpse of the potential consequences of exceeding 1.5°C:

Intensified heatwaves: More frequent and severe heatwaves can lead to heat stress, water scarcity, and impacts on public health and agricultural productivity.

Disruptions in monsoon patterns: Changes in monsoon rainfall patterns can trigger floods in some regions and droughts in others, impacting food security and livelihoods.

Rising sea levels: Coastal regions, including major cities like Mumbai and Chennai, face threats from rising sea levels, saltwater intrusion, and increased storm surges.

Himalayan glacial retreat: Melting glaciers can disrupt freshwater supplies for millions downstream, impacting irrigation, hydropower generation, and river ecosystems.

The Debate Over Continuing Focus

Why is there debate about whether the 1.5°C target should remain the focus?

Some argue it's unrealistic given current emissions trends. Others believe it diverts attention from adaptation efforts needed for impacts already underway.

What are the alternative viewpoints for India?

Local risk assessment and adaptation: Focusing on understanding and preparing for climate change impacts at the regional and even city level, regardless of the global average temperature. This includes investments in heat action plans, drought-resistant crops, early warning systems, and coastal protection measures.

Focus on shorter-term targets: While long-term goals are essential, prioritizing near-term emissions reductions and adaptation strategies crucial for managing climate risks in the coming decades.

India's current actions:

India has pledged ambitious renewable energy targets and aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070. However, achieving these goals requires significant investments in clean energy infrastructure and technological advancements.

Examples of Impacts Already Felt in India

Heatwaves: Several parts of India have experienced record-breaking heatwaves in recent years, leading to deaths, power outages, and disruptions to agriculture.

Floods and droughts: Erratic monsoon patterns have caused devastating floods in some regions and severe droughts in others, impacting agricultural production and livelihoods.

Glacial retreat: The retreat of Himalayan glaciers is threatening water supplies for millions of people in the Indo-Gangetic plains.

What's the alternative viewpoint to a singular focus on 1.5°C?

Focus on local risk assessment: Understand climate impacts at a regional, even city level, and prepare for them regardless of the global average temperature.

Focus on shorter-term targets: Plan for impacts in the coming decades rather than solely on end-of-century goals.

Temporary vs. Permanent Breach

What's the significance of the temporary breach of 1.5°C in 2023?

⇒ It highlights the trend of rising temperatures, fueled in part by natural climate cycles like El Niño.


⇒ It is not the same as a permanent breach expected in the coming decades as part of long-term global warming trends.

Can individual weather events be directly blamed on global warming?

Not always. While climate change increases the likelihood of certain types of extreme events, scientists conduct attribution studies to determine if warming significantly influenced specific occurrences.

Looking Ahead


⇒ The 1.5°C target remains a crucial reference point for global climate action, including India's efforts.

⇒ Regardless of the exact temperature rise, prioritizing adaptation strategies and building resilience are critical for India to manage the inevitable impacts of climate change.


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