Mean temperatures in Gujarat have risen up to a maximum of 2.9 degree Celsius between 1986-2019 and it could rise further by a maximum of 5 degree Celsius by end of 21st century, states Gujarat’s State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC), unveiled recently by chief minister Vijay Rupani.
This rise in the 33-year period till 2019, which the SAPCC attributes to anthropogenic emissions, is seen as the highest ever in a term. “Anthropogenic emissions” are emissions associated with human activities such as burning of fossil fuel, deforestation and land-use changes.
“Our future projections show that precipitation and temperature are projected to increase over Gujarat — temperature is projected to increase by 1.5-5 degrees Celsius and precipitation by 15% to 25% by the end of the 21st century,” the report, published by the Gujarat climate change department with support from teams of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIMA) and the Indian Institute of Technology- Gandhinagar (IIT-Gn), states.
The report warns how cold days and cold nights would decline even as the “frequency of hot days, hot nights and heatwaves are projected to rise considerably”.
The climatic projections made in SAPCC simulate data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) between 1971 and 2000 used as a reference period to understand future changes. The simulations of future climate are classified into near term (2011-2040), midterm (2041-2070) and far term (2071-2100).
In the climate profile of Gujarat, the SAPCC states that between 1986-2019, the mean temperatures changed in the range of 0.2 to 2.9 degrees Celsius. This change was in the range of -1.2 to 0.7 degrees Celsius between 1951 and 1985. “This significant increase in temperatures during this short period (1985-2019), could be attributed to anthropogenic emissions,” it added.
The SAPCC states that the mean annual temperatures in Gujarat could rise between 0.8 and 1.1 degree Celsius in near term (2011-2040) even in the most optimistic scenario, while temperatures could rise between 1 and 1.3 degrees Celsius in the most pessimistic of scenarios.
Similarly, the temperatures in far term (2071-2100) are expected to rise by 1.2 and 1.5 degrees Celsius in optimistic scenario, while it could rise between 3.7 and 4.9 degrees Celsius in the most pessimistic scenario.
Not just local factors
Vimal Mishra, associate professor at IIT-Gn, who was one of the main contributors to the SAPCC, says, “Climate is not just controlled by local factors, so we have limited control. How the temperature is going to change by 2030, one cannot do much, until and unless we do climate mitigation. Local level changes like afforestation and having water bodies can help provide more comfort in urban settings.”
The action plan maps the mean annual daily maximum temperature rise to be “more towards the north and north-eastern side in the districts of Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Aravalli, Dahod, Patan, Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Kheda, Panchmahals and Anand. Some parts of Kutch, Ahmedabad and Surendranagar are showing heightened temperature increase up to 4.4 degrees Celsius”.
Talking about how Gujarat experiences 3.7 to 4.8 heatwaves per year, SAPCC states that little attention has been paid to design public facilities to adapt to heatwaves in the state.
“While Gujarat has grown tremendously in terms of canal density and water resource management projects (including Sardar Sarovar Dam and Narmada canal network), little to no attention has been paid to heatwaves adaptation. There is ample scope to learn lessons from various cities in the west (including Brooklyn in Boston) which have designed public facilities to adapt to heatwaves and intensifying temperature extremes,” the plan states adding that the districts or Kutch, Porbandar, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Junagadh and Gir Somnath face a higher number (above 4) of heatwaves, compared to the rest of the state.
According to Mishra, “The easiest way is to counter the major drivers that cause green house gas emissions. Clean energy is a long-term solution. Each municipal corporation can come up with a heat wave action plan, like the one in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. If people are warned in advance about heatwaves, mortality will go down”.
The action plan also states that 45.67 per cent of the coast in Gujarat is under “high to very high risk category” due to an anticipated rise in sea level. The coastal regions under very high risk category are along the northwestern parts of Gulf of Khambhat, northern most parts of Gulf of Kutch and western parts of Kutch coast.
According to an official from the Gujarat climate change department, the main risks are temperature and precipitation extremes, and rising sea levels.
“These impact agriculture, economic sectors, infrastructure, and population groups in different ways. Agriculture is a major sector that employs 50% of the working population and contributes 9.5% to the Gross State Domestic Product. Higher projected rainfall variations and extremes threaten productivity, with 54% of the cultivated land dependent on rain-fed agriculture and more than 60% of the total land area lying in drought-prone zones,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
“The livestock and animal husbandry sector, with a population of 26.9 million livestock, could suffer productivity losses due to heat stress and grassland deterioration. Impact assessment suggests crop yield has shown a declining trend… The Government of Gujarat has taken multiple steps to manage the risks… The adaptation strategies include altering planting and harvesting time, collection of crops with short life cycles, crop rotation and cultivation of new crops, modern irrigation techniques, variation in cropping schemes and implementation of crop-management technique. Gujarat is one of leading states in drip irrigation,” the official added.
The action plan also envisages strategies for financing climate action. The Climate Change Fund of Gujarat would be “a first-of-its-kind fund dedicated for the effective implementation of the State Action Plan on Climate Change.”
It will aim to channelise investments from developed countries and other donor agencies and the money will be used to implement Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Projects.
The Government of Gujarat is also looking to set up an entity focused on Green/Climate finance on the GIFT City premises in Gandhinagar.
Gujarat also proposes to establish Chief Minister’s Executive Council on Climate Change in alignment with Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change. The climate change department will be the nodal department for coordinating the activities of council with members from public entities, private sector and academia and research institutes.