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Kolkata’s vulnerability underlined at COP27

Reports show city at risk from high heat, high-intensity cyclones, major rainfall

The Plurals News Network | Published 16.11.22, 09:23 PM
Debasish Kumar, mayor in council, Kolkata  Municipal Corporation, at the COP27 meeting

Debasish Kumar, mayor in council, Kolkata Municipal Corporation, at the COP27 meeting

Kolkata was the only Indian city to be invited to the COP27 meeting themed on urban climate resilience. The meeting had representatives from across south Asia.

According to recent UN global reports, Kolkata has been identified among the cities that are most vulnerable to climate change.

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COP27 is the United Nations Climate Change Conference, 2022. It is being held at Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt. It is the 27th edition of the annual meeting organised by the UN with world leaders and other stakeholders to discuss and define commitments in the fight against climate change. climate change. The first COP took place in Berlin in 1995.

“Kolkata Municipal Corporation was invited to the COP 27 to present its climate risks and mitigation roadmap along with various cities across south Asia, after it recently announced its support to the global pledge to cut fossil fuel, being the first Indian city to take the initiative. KMC’s mayor-in-council member, Debasish Kumar, represented the city,” mayor Firhad Hakim told The Plurals.

Kolkata one of the most vulnerable cities

“Recent global reports have categorically shown how vulnerable the city is because of its proximity to the Sunderbans. Reports have clearly stated our risk to high heat, high-intensity cyclones, major rainfall within a short duration and likewise. From Aila to Amphan, our vulnerability has been clearly exposed. During Cyclone Amphan in 2020, around 15,000 trees were uprooted in the city,” Debasish Kumar said at the event.

“We have already taken a series of steps, including providing solar connectivity to parks, introducing electric vehicles and planting saplings, but we have to do more to reduce the city’s carbon footprint,” the mayoral council member said.

IPCC report flagged concerns

The recently released AR 6 IPCC report underlined both Kolkata’s existing as well as predicted risks.

Increasing risk: Beyond 2040, climate change would lead to numerous risks and occurrence of multiple climate hazards, often in tandem.

Loss of green cover: The city has lost substantial green cover due to Amphan.

Inadequate resilience plan: Limitations of resilience plans to address vulnerability.

Disaster mortality: Among eight megacities in the world, Kolkata is the most vulnerable city to disaster-related mortality, only one from India.

Flooding: Kolkata is the third among the 20 largest coastal flood-prone global cities with the highest flood losses by 2050. The city also has the risk of subsidence due to the rising sea-level and flooding. One-day rainfall may increase by 55 per cent.

Cyclone rise: Category 3 to 5 cyclones (extremely severe or super cyclones) likely to impact the Sunderbans and also affect Kolkata.

Inundation due to sea-level rise: Bay of Bengal water level expected to rise by 0.6 metres by the end of the century, impacting Kolkata which is already struggling with an old and stressed drainage system.

Highest temperature rise: Temperature in the city increased by 2.6°C in the last six decades, highest in the world followed by Tehran and Moscow.

Further temperature rise: Average temperature may rise about 4.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century while maximum temperature may reach around 50 degrees Celsius if the present trend of global emission continues.

“Though the predictions are benchmarked against the figures from 1850-1900 as man-made emission had started since then, the increase has been most pronounced in the recent decades,” said a climate expert associated with Calcutta University.

An absolute priority, says mayor

“Countering climate change and air pollution are of paramount importance to keep the city liveable for the future generations,” the mayor said.

The mayor also hailed the idea of a city COP (conference of people), which was discussed at Sharm El Sheikh.

“We will organise ‘Kolkata COP’ soon involving all stakeholders after I discuss the details with the experts in Sharm El Sheikh. The whole idea should be to involve the stakeholder groups and prepare a holistic climate action plan for the city,” the mayor told The Plurals.

Sanjay Vashist, director of the Climate Action Network, South Asia, which organised the meeting, promised support to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

“We are committed to supporting the KMC in its efforts to counter climate change and prepare its climate action plan. I feel it’s a great idea to organise a climate COP for the city,” said Vashist.

“Climate meetings with city stakeholders is a good idea, but the civic body needs to be committed. While trees are being felled, water bodies are shrinking rapidly thanks to encroachments in the city,” said a city-based environmentalist.

“I had several meetings with some key global organisations and experts present at the COP27, including the World Health Organisation, and all of them welcomed the idea of holding a city-based COP and promised help. Following the mayor and state government’s nod, we shall start the formal process,” Debashis Kumar told The Plurals.

Last updated on 16.11.22, 09:32 PM
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