September 8, 2005

Global warming could hit India agriculture: study

By Palash Kumar

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Global warming will push temperatures
in India up by 3-4 degrees Celsius by the turn of the century,
hitting agriculture and infrastructure, a joint India-UK study
said on Thursday.

Rainfall will increase substantially in many areas while
diseases such as malaria will spread, the report entitled
"Investigating the Impacts of Climate Change in India" said.

"The impact of climate change on agriculture could result
in problems with food security and may threaten livelihood
activities upon which much of the population depends," said the
report released by Indian Environment Minister A. Raja and
British deputy minister for trade and investment Ian Pearson.

"Changes in certain crops can affect imports and exports."

The report warned that rising sea levels due to global
warming could damage India's vast coastal railway network,
especially the country's showcase 760 km (475 mile) Konkan
railway project along the western coast.

The report's release coincided with the visit of British
Prime Minister Tony Blair for a European Union-India summit.

Nearly 70 percent of India's billion-plus population
depends on agriculture which accounts for about a quarter of
its GDP.

India has no obligation to cut greenhouse gas emissions,
which cause global warming, under the first phase of the Kyoto
climate change protocol to 2012.

Under the agreement, developed nations will aim to reduce
greenhouse gas output by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by
2008-12, but developing nations such as India and China are
exempt because they said their economies would be hit if they
changed their energy policies.

In July, the United States, India and Australia unveiled a
six-nation "Beyond Kyoto" pact to combat global warming, but
critics said it had no targets and could undermine existing

"Climate change in India represents an additional stress on
a country that is already facing tremendous pressures due to
rapid development," Pearson said.

"Understanding climate change and its consequences is
critical to protect lives and assets upon which India's economy
is dependent."

India is Asia's fastest growing economy after China. The
economy is expected to expand 7 percent this year.