According to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), India could lose 34 million jobs by 2030 because of global warming or “heat stress”. This decrease in productivity means a 5.8% reduction in working hours, says the report. India’s agriculture and construction industries are expected to be hit the hardest.
In its “Working on a Warmer Planet” report, the ILO said that by 2030— in the next two decades— the whole world will see a 2% loss in productivity because the temperature will be too hot for workers.
This means that 80 million jobs across the world will be lost.
India will be one of the most impacted countries by the rising levels of global warming because labourers in the country will feel “heat stress.” India’s dependency on agriculture and development industries like construction makes it particularly vulnerable.
“Although most of the impact in India will be felt in the agricultural sector, more and more working hours are expected to be lost in the construction sector, where heat stress affects both male and female workers,” said the ILO report, according to Business Standard.
What is the ILO report?
In its report, the ILO has analysed “heat stress” or the increase in body heat from working and the outside temperature. The organisation found that the greater the heat stress, the less able humans will be able to work in labour-intensive jobs.
The rising levels of heat stress will also create more income inequality and a greater urban-rural divide.
The report says, “Significantly, during the 2005-15 period, higher levels of heat stress were associated with larger out-migration flows — a trend not observed for the preceding 10-year period.”
Asian and African countries are predicted to see the most unemployment and lack of productivity and resultant declining GDPs. Thailand, Cambodia, India and Pakistan will see an erosion of around 5% in their GDPs by 2030.
Even developing countries that will increasing concretise their cities will feel the impact of rising temperatures because of the loss of green cover.
For example, the report says that China is predicted to lose 5.47 million jobs, a 0.78% in productivity, while the US will lose only 3.89 lakh jobs or 0.21% in productivity. African countries like Chad and Sudan will see 7.11% and 5.9% reduction in work hours respectively while east Asian countries like Thailand and Cambodia will see 6.39% and 7.83% respectively.
Modi government focuses on unemployment
The Modi government was already getting backlash after the NSSO published post-demonetisation data showing an unemployment rate of 6%. Unemployment then became a big ticket election issue.
After the election ended, former Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian published research that also cast a cloud over the country’s estimated growth rate. He found that the government has been overestimating India’s growth rate by about 2.5 percentage points since 2014, leading to concerns about India’s financial stability.
In his second tenure as Prime Minister, Modi has brought back the cabinet committees on employment and investment and growth to boost progress in those fields. He has also directed officials to diversify India’s economy by focusing on digital products like software and making India a leader in tech innovation.
However, to really protect Indians from the adverse effects of climate change, Modi needs to adopt a dual-focus on sustainability and growth and invest in commodities, services, and technology that benefits the environment in the long run while also spurning development in India.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius