Climate Change, Heat Exposure Reducing India's Labour Force By 7%: Report

Ambient air pollution from the coal-based power plants leads to 107,000 premature deaths in India, the study has estimated.

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The study says India is losing 7 per cent of its work force due to heat exposure.


New Delhi: 

Climate change is making more people vulnerable to heat exposure and air pollution in India leading to one lakh premature deaths and 7 per cent reduction in country's labour force, the researchers said in an analysis in The Lancet medical journal.

Ambient air pollution from the coal-based power plants leads to 107,000 premature deaths in India, the study has estimated.

Both the young and the elderly living in the close vicinity of such power plants have been found equally vulnerable.

The Lancet Countdown 2018 study places India among the countries that have suffered high social and economic costs from climate change, particularly carbon emissions and air pollution from coal burning.

Prof Hugh Montgomery, who co-authored the study said: "We do need to address where that electricity comes from - burning fossil fuels and that needs to stop."

The report explains that the climate change is not only triggering natural disasters but also affecting the health and well-being of the millions of people in many countries across the globe.

Climate change is leading to health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, respiratory illness, mental illness besides fuelling the spread of vector- borne diseases like dengue and malaria.

The climate change and heat exposure have hit the labour force in the country hard. The study says India is losing 7 per cent of its work force due to heat exposure and the impact is mostly felt in the labour-intensive agriculture sector, the mainstay of Indian economy.

India witnessed 40 million more heat wave exposure cases in 2016 compared to 2012. In the agriculture sector, the labour hours lost increased from 40,000 million hours in 2000 to 60,000 million hours in 2017. The analysis shows that 75,000 million hours of labour was lost in 2017 as compared to 43,000 hours in 2000 due to heat exposure.

Globally, in 2017, 153 billion hours of labour were lost due to heat exposure, an increase of 62 billion hours compared to 2000.

The report also says that the already vulnerable areas in India, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, and South America are bearing the brunt of the climate change.

Dr Nick Watts, Institute for Global Health, University College London another co- author of the study said: "India is one of the most vulnerable places and experiences at least half of the extreme heat exposure and the authorities must attend to that rising concern."

In 2017, 157 million vulnerable people were exposed to heatwaves globally, and 153 billion hours of labour were lost due to heat exposure.



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