‘Extreme heat poses $250bn risk to India’s GDP’

‘Extreme heat poses $250bn risk to India’s GDP’

NEW DELHI: A deadly heat wave could burn the economy. In just another decade, India would be among the first places where extreme heat would make working outdoors dangerous, says a report released by global management consulting firm McKinsey. And since about 50% of India’s GDP is already dependent on heat-exposed work — agriculture, mining and construction — there would be an immediate, palpable impact, one worth $250 billion.
The report, out early this week analyses the physical risks climate change poses in Asia, found that between 160 million and 200 million could be living in areas that are vulnerable to deadly heat waves by 2030. In another 20 years after that, the range would double to 310-480 million. A lethal heat wave occurs when the average daily maximum wet-bulb temperature (the lowest to which air can be cooled with evaporating water) reaches a point that can kill a healthy human resting in the shade.
“Climate models project that some areas of India may become the first places on Earth to be exposed to heat and humidity so extreme that, without adaptation measures such as air-conditioning, healthy adults risk succumbing to heat waves in large numbers,” the report said.
It would mean that working outside would become more and more difficult. “We estimate that the effective number of outdoor working hours lost in an average year … could rise by about 15% by 2030,” the report added.
But what about those who can’t afford to miss a day’s work — even when it might be fatal? “We are concerned about the public health aspects of the potential heat wave. In India, a large percentage of employment is in the unorganized sector and often on a daily wage basis. It is even more important to ensure policies and regulations are framed to safeguard the most vulnerable in society,” Suvojoy Sengupta, partner at McKinsey & Company who contributed research to the report, told TOI.
And while the biggest impact will be on those who are most vulnerable economically, there will be a domino effect. “We estimate that the effective number of outdoor working hours lost will increase approximately 15% by 2030, resulting in approximately … $150-250 billion risk to GDP. By 2050, both the intensity of and exposure to lethal heat waves, as well as the impact on outdoor work, could increase in a nonlinear way,” a companion to the report, ‘Will India get too hot to work?’, said.
It would steepen what has already been an upward curve of economic losses. Heat-exposed work drives 30% of GDP growth and employs about 75% of the total labour force in India. “Between Between 1951 and 1980, across India, an average of approximately 10% of daylight hours were effectively lost for outdoor work due to extreme heat and humidity in a given year. Today, climate models indicate that this has increased to roughly 15% on average across India.”

Source From : Times Of India

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