Accessibility links

Climate change risk: a mitigation and adaptation agenda for Indian cities

India is one of the more vulnerable and risk-prone countries in the world, but its population have learned to cope with a wide range of natural and human-made hazards. Rapid population growth, high densities, poverty and high differentials in access to housing, public services and infrastructure have led to an increase in vulnerability, especially in urban centers. This paper considers the needed adaptation and mitigation agenda for cities in India – where the urban population is likely to grow by around 500 million over the next 50 years.

The author considers the likely changes that climate change will bring in temperature and identifies who within urban populations are most at risk. It notes the importance for urban areas of an effective rural adaptation agenda, especially in maintaining the productivity and functioning of rural systems. It highlights the importance of infrastructure investments, taking into account climate change, given the long lifespan of infrastructure, and the importance of urban management engaging with changing risk profiles. It highlights the need to connect official adaptation initiatives to the much-improved natural hazard risk assessment, management and mitigation capacity that responded to major disasters.

The paper ends with the following suggestions of a possible urban climate change adaptation framework and linkages to mitigation. The key instruments that could help mitigate climate change-related risks include:

  • new construction and development which could be funded partly by carbon credits
  • retrofitting and strengthening buildings using institutional and financial innovation and incentives
  • Energy, water, wastewater, transportation, telecom and IT infrastructure development and strengthening using carbon offset financing
  • hazard modification – repairing and strengthening strategic flood, storm surge and coastal defences are important city-level interventions
  • relocation and rehabilitation – a last resort policy option of relocating settlements depending on the expected level of risk
  • joining up with ongoing hazard risk reduction programmes like the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation programme
  • strengthening regional and rural–urban linkages by integrating climate change-related adaptation into regional and urban sectoral and investment planning.