Coastal states in Mumbai, Kolkata & four other Indian cities will be underwater by 2030 finds report

It’s 2021 and climate change is more real than ever. Temperatures are rising, glaciers are melting and quite a few cities may be underwater soon. And it’s not getting better - even in the most optimistic scenario, where global greenhouse gas emissions begin to decline right now and are slashed to net-zero by 2050, global temperature will still peak above the 1.5-degree threshold before falling.

Cycles of floods caused by heavy bursts of rainfall and a rise in droughts due to increased evaporation, is potentially what India’s climate future will look like as the world barrels towards breaching the 1.5 degree Celsius ceiling for global warming by 2040, a UN report has said.

Already, India’s financial capital Mumbai is witness to heavy rainfall days unprecedented in decades that last month left the city flooded and also extracted its toll in human lives.

On the other side, in West Bengal, following unprecedented devastation after two cyclones, Cyclone Amphan and Cyclone Yaas, residents of two islands in the Sundarbans — Ghoramara and Mousuni —were moved away to safety by the West Bengal government as tidal waters and rainfall pose grave risk to their lives while much of their property has already been claimed by the sea in July 2021. Man and animal have cohabited these islands, but climate change has out a question mark on the existence of Sundarbans itself, which incidentally also features on the Unesco World Heritage List.

According to a climate threat assessment report released by the Centre last year, the Bay of Bengal area where the Sundarbans lies is one of the most climatically vulnerable zones in India with an increase in sea levels and flooding presenting the greatest risk. An analysis of data between 1891 and 2018 showed that the Bay of Bengal region was struck by 41 severe cyclonic storms and 21 cyclonic storms during the given period. All these events had occurred in the month of May.

A new study from Climate Central, a nonprofit research group, shows that roughly 50 major coastal cities will have to immediately start “unprecedented" adaptation measures to prevent rising seas from swallowing them. On its new Coastal Risk Screening Tool, where the projections show which cities are at risk to be below sea levels up to 2150, even the closest depiction of 2030 paints a dangerous picture for some Indian cities - especially in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala and West Bengal.

According to the website, the Coastal Risk Screening Tool is “an interactive map showing areas threatened by sea level rise and coastal flooding. Combining the most advanced global model of coastal elevations with the latest projections for future flood levels." From the map itself with the marker on 2030. Here’s a look at what it looks like for the year 2030.

Here’s a closer look at the areas which will be below tide level by 2030:

This map shows how parts of Mumbai, almost the entirety of Navi Mumbai, the coastal areas of Sunderbans, and the surrounding areas of West Bengal’s capital, Kolkata, along with Cuttack in Odisha, may be below tide-level in 2030. 2030 is in just 9 years from now — and the future is imminent if sea-levels don’t stop rising. For Kerala too, the area surrounding Kochi and other coastal cities, the threat of being below tide-level is drastically high according to the map data.

Image credit: News18

For the year 2120, almost a hundred years from now, the situation looks even worse, with almost every coastal surrounding cities of India marked in red, and destined to be below the tide-level.

Making an ambitious pledge at the Glasgow climate summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said India will reach net-zero carbon emission by 2070. While delivering the national address as a ‘representative’ of developing nations, PM Modi outlined a five-point plan or ‘Panchamrit’ to fight the devastating effects of global warming and climate change.

‘Net zero’ emission refers to a scenario where the amount of greenhouse gases produced is the same as the amount removed from the atmosphere, by employing strategies like the planting of trees and deploying advanced technologies to capture carbon dioxide. China has said it would reach that goal in 2060, and the US and the EU aim for 2050.

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