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Project November 8, 2022

Impact of Changing Climate on Incomes, Labour, and Migration in India

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Heat, droughts, and excess rainfall are destroying the livelihoods of millions of poor people in India, who didn’t contribute to global warming but suffer the worst consequences. In the absence of supportive government policies, they are forced to migrate to other places to search for jobs. This journey often takes them to overpopulated, industrial cities of India, where they live in precarious situations and work in dangerous jobs, often turned deadly courtesy of climate change.

For example, a report has concluded that nearly 75 percent of the labour force—about 380 million people in India—is exposed to heat-related stress. By 2030, the average loss in daylight working hours could put between 2.5 and 4.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product at risk annually, in a business-as-usual scenario. Agriculture, manufacturing, and construction—sectors collectively employing most of India’s working population—are all hit by the severe impacts of climate change.

Beyond the grave numbers of the impact of global warming produced by scientific modelling, what’s really happening in the almost invisible lives of these millions of Indians living in rural India? How are they surviving? What are they doing to adapt? Does migrating to cities help them? In this long-form, multi-story project, Bhasker Tripathi and Mahima Jain try to find answers to these questions and several more.

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