‘Michaung is clear signature of climate change’

Cyclonic storm dumping record rain on Chennai shows climate proofing measures not adequate, say experts 
Rain triggered by Cyclone Michaung batters Madhavaram in Chennai on Monday. (Photo I Express)
Rain triggered by Cyclone Michaung batters Madhavaram in Chennai on Monday. (Photo I Express)

DUBAI: As climate-change talks take centre stage in Dubai, Chennai, lying nearly 3,000 km away, has gone under water as the slow-moving severe cyclonic storm Michaung dumps record rains over the region, triggering severe flooding. While part of the reasoning is poor urban planning, climate change plays a significant role in delivering such extreme rainfall events. 

At COP28, India, along with other developing countries, is trying to build a consensus demanding their developed counterparts, who were the historic emitters and created this monstrous climate crisis, pay up.    
Sanjay Vashist, Director, Climate Action Network South Asia and a COP28 observer, told TNIE: “The science has been unequivocal and repeatedly warning us that climate change is responsible for the extreme weather events that we are facing today. Widespread floods across India in the last few years are causing extensive damage to major road infrastructure and devastating croplands, homes, schools, and hospitals. Rebuilding the livelihoods and assets that communities have lost will pose a significant challenge due to limited funding and competition with other global crises.”

According to him, the world leaders urgently need to agree, adopt and operationalise a comprehensive framework on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) and adopt a permanent agenda item on the GGA to politically elevate adaptation to the same level as mitigation. 

This year, Bihar reported the most fatalities at 502, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 97 and Gujarat with 94. Himachal Pradesh, which experienced one of its deadliest landslides and floods last month, was ranked fourth, with 88 deaths. The Union government pegged the loss due to Cyclone Biparjoy in agriculture and horticulture in Gujarat at Rs 1,212 crore.  Acknowledging the situation in Chennai is grave, Supriya Sahu, Additional Chief Secretary to Tamil Nadu government in Environment, Climate Change and Forests Department, said that if the access to the international funds is made easier, the recovery after the disaster would be faster.

“At present, they are too wired and it’s very difficult to access them. Too many conditions. It is critical to simplify. The Green Climate Fund is one such example. At sub-national level Tamil Nadu has set a benchmark with setting up a Green Climate Fund of Rs 1,000 crore with a green-shoe option of another Rs 1,000 crore.”

COP veteran Nambi Appadurai, Director, Climate Resilience Practice at World Resources Institute, India, said there is a very clear signature of climate change in the current Michaung cyclone. “We witnessed the same scenario almost eight years ago in 2015 and the impact is only intensified. The topography of Chennai is also exacerbating the problem, its terrain is almost flat. What we spend now on climate proofing measures are not adequate,” Nambi said.

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