• Climate change is already impacting people’s lives and livelihoods in India.
  • Left unchecked, people will be under even greater threat and the economy could lose $35 trillion by 2070, according to Deloitte.
  • But if India leads the way with climate action, it could gain $11 trillion in economic value.
  • India already produces advanced climate solutions, which it could export to the rest of the world.

India can lead the way on climate action and prosper, or do nothing and “impose steep economic costs” – as well as the continuing human and environmental cost – on the country, according to a new report.

Leaving climate change unchecked could cost India $35 trillion in lost economic potential over the next 50 years, finds the Deloitte Economics Institute in its report, India’s turning point: How climate action can drive our economic future.

Or instead, India could gain $11 trillion in economic value – by limiting rising global temperatures and exporting the climate solutions it has already developed to the rest of the world.

Climate Change India How to Save the Planet
India could gain $11 trillion in economic value – or lose $35 trillion – depending on its climate actions over the next decade.
Image: Deloitte

The human and environmental cost

For India, a rise of 3C or more in average global temperatures by the end of the century will “make it harder for people to live and work, as sea levels rise, crop yields fall, infrastructure is damaged, and other challenges emerge,” Deloitte warns.

Climate-related disasters in the country have increased in recent years and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently warned that India is set for more extreme heat waves, monsoons and droughts if it continues on its current trajectory.

Other studies point to the negative impacts of air pollution, which kills more than 1 million people a year. It is also thought to shorten lifespans by more than nine years for around 4 in 10 Indians.

Transitioning to a green economy

As well as the immediate cost to lives and livelihoods, a 3C or more scenario could threaten India’s progress and prosperity in recent decades, and cost the five most impacted industries $1.5 trillion a year by 2070. These account for more than 80% of India’s GDP and are services, manufacturing, retail and tourism, construction, and transport.

Climate change globally is the biggest long-term threat to the economy, according to the Climate Economics Index from Swiss Re Institute.

By 2050, the world economy could lose up to 18% of its GDP if temperatures increase by 3.2C.

The good news is that India is well positioned to help the world transition to a green economy, and could achieve “significant economic growth” by supplying the products, services and financing the world will need to limit temperature increases, Deloitte says.

Companies in India are already leading producers of advanced climate solutions.

“These include green hydrogen and negative-emission solutions, both natural and technological,” Deloitte says.

this diagram showing how India can rapidly decarbonize
A successful decarbonization scenario
Image: India’s turning point, Deloitte

Towards a sustainable future

It’s therefore not too late to limit average global temperature rises to around 1.5C by 2050, Deloitte says. This would minimize the impact of climate change for India and the rest of the world. But to achieve this, there would need to be bold and rapid actions over the next decade by governments, businesses and communities.

How to accelerate climate action is one of the central themes to be addressed at the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2021, from 20-23 September.

What is the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact summit?

It’s an annual meeting featuring top examples of public-private cooperation and Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies being used to develop the sustainable development agenda.

It runs alongside the United Nations General Assembly, which this year features a one-day climate summit. This is timely given rising public fears – and citizen action – over weather conditions, pollution, ocean health and dwindling wildlife. It also reflects the understanding of the growing business case for action.

The UN’s Strategic Development Goals and the Paris Agreement provide the architecture for resolving many of these challenges. But to achieve this, we need to change the patterns of production, operation and consumption.

The World Economic Forum’s work is key, with the summit offering the opportunity to debate, discuss and engage on these issues at a global policy level.

Leaders and experts across sectors will share technologies and solutions to global challenges and create innovative policy recommendations and action plans. They will also advance partnerships and alliances that tackle pressing and emerging issues.