IPCC's Climate Change Report Cites 'Colonialism' As Reason For Vulnerability

The IPCC report warns that “minor” or “incremental” response to the threat of climate change is not enough to deal with the crisis.

The new report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted crisis-like situation caused by climate change on the planet. While outlining high chances of multiple climate hazards taking place simultaneously, the report has pointed out at 'colonialism' as one of the reasons for 'vulnerability of ecosystems and people to climate change'.

"The vulnerability of ecosystems and people to climate change differs substantially among and within regions (very high confidence), driven by patterns of intersecting socio-economic development, unsustainable ocean and land use, inequity, marginalization, historical and ongoing patterns of inequity such as colonialism, and governance," the report said. "Human and ecosystem vulnerability are interdependent," it added.

Climate change activists and environmental experts have often cited colonialism and capitalism as one major root causes of climate change.

"Climate change is rooted in the exploitation and degradation of the planet, peoples, and cultures, which were the foundational principles of colonialism. Rooted in white supremacy, colonialism's impacts on current challenges and solutions to climate change are seldom explored," reads an article in the Environmental Health News.

"The lack of acknowledgment for these historical root causes of the current climate crisis has hamstrung our ability to ensure equitable climate adaptation for the most socially vulnerable and historically marginalized communities," the article published in November 2021 noted.

This is the first time a scientific document signed off by by over 66 countries is acknowledging the colonial roots of the current climate crises and the inequity of climate impacts.

The IPCC report also warns that "minor" or "incremental" response to the threat of climate change is not enough to deal with the crisis.

"The world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C. Even temporarily exceeding this warming level will result in additional severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible. Risks for society will increase, including to infrastructure and low-lying coastal settlements," the report warns.

How will climate change impact India?

The latest IPCC report indicates that India will be one of the nations being worst-affected by the climate change. "India is one of the most vulnerable countries globally in terms of the population that will be affected by sea-level rise. By the middle of the century, around 35 million people in India could face annual coastal flooding, with 45-50 million at risk by the end of the century," it says.

Painting a worrisome scenario for India, the report says that by 2050, 40 percent of India's population will face water scarcity. Currently, 33 percent of India's population is faced with water crisis. The chances of flooding in Ganga and Brahmaputra river basins will also increase according to the report, if warming crosses 1.5 degrees Celsius mark.

The report also said the 'extended periods of dry spells and droughts' are impacting water availability in arid regions of India, adding that studies found that in India, ozone and heat caused 36% for of wheat and 20 % of rice yield loss.

Will Solar Energy Help India?

While using solar energy instead of diesel and electricity for groundwater pumping may help reduce India's carbon emissions by 8-11%, the absence of incentives can prove be counter. "In the absence of incentives to deter groundwater over-exploitation, solar pumps may exacerbate groundwater depletion," the report says.

Is Climate Change Affecting Mental Health?

With 1.5 degree Celsius increase in Earth's temperature, the climate across the globe is expected to be erratic with heat waves, more rainfall in some regions and drought-like situations in others, declining sea ice, and much more.

These changes will have a negative impact on the mental health of people with unequal impacts on people across gender, age and livelihood.

Researches suggest that the varying impacts of climate change on mental health depends on their proximity to the hazard, their dependence on on the environment for livelihood and 'culture and their socio-economic status.'

The Conversation report lists people associated with agriculture, those living in areas at the risk of floods and wildfires, indigenous people and those dependent on environment for livelihood are among the most impacted by climate change.

The IPCC report says that the current approach to adaptation will become ineffective at higher levels of warming.

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