From: Palash Kumar, Reuters
Published September 9, 2005 12:00 AM

Global Warming Could Hit Indian Agriculture, Study Reveals

NEW DELHI — 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.


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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 treaties.


"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.


Source: Reuters


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