UPSC Editorial Analysis

Need for Climate Resilient Industrial Sector in India

GS Paper 3 - Industrial Policy, Infrastructure, Growth & Development


India’s core industries have slowed considerably, according to statistics from May 2023, partly as a result of a severe heatwave. Due to the increasing need for cooling, the production of coal and power grew, but other industries such as cement, fertilizers, and crude oil faced contractions. The heatwave had an especially negative effect on building operations in northern India, which decreased the demand for steel and cement. A continuous decline in fertilizer output indicates enduring difficulties facing the agriculture industry. India can surmount upcoming obstacles and establish a more robust industrial foundation for long-term economic expansion by putting strategic measures in place to strengthen its industrial sector’s resilience to the effects of climate change.

Threats of Climate Change to India’s Industrial Sector

  • Water Scarcity and Stress – By 2050, there could be “severe” water scarcity in 50% of Indian districts. Water-intensive businesses like agriculture, textiles, and power generation are at risk. Unaddressed water scarcity might cost India up to 6% of its GDP by 2050, according to a report by NITI Aayog. 
  • Extreme Weather Events – Extreme weather events are occurring more frequently and with greater severity, which puts industrial infrastructure and activities at serious danger. Heatwaves, floods, and cyclones can stop operations, damage infrastructure, and mess with supply lines. 
  • Rising Temperatures – Elevated temperatures diminish labor force output and escalate cooling expenses for commercial establishments. By 2030, rising temperatures are predicted to cause India to lose around 5.8% of its daily working hours. This would reduce productivity and reduce the amount of tax revenue collected. (Asian and Pacific Economic and Social Commission of the United Nations). 
  • Supply Chain Disruptions – Climate change poses a serious danger to India’s businesses by making local and global supply chains more vulnerable. Severe weather events have the potential to destroy storage facilities, interfere with transportation networks, and impact the supply of raw materials. 
  • Regulatory and Market Pressures – Stricter laws and altered market dynamics are the results of the increased emphasis on climate action on a worldwide scale. There is pressure on industries to embrace sustainable practices and lessen their carbon footprint. For example, the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism may have a big effect on India’s export-oriented steel and chemical industries. 
  • Shifting Healthcare Industries – The geographic distribution and prevalence of many diseases are changing due to climate change. The healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors in India face difficult challenges as a result of this change. For example, the range of vector-borne illnesses like dengue and malaria is growing due to rising temperatures. 
  • Climate-Induced Migration – India’s internal migration is predicted to increase significantly due to climate change. Industries in both the origin and destination regions face difficulties as a result of this massive mobility. Urban sectors may struggle with a quick population inflow, which could cause social unrest and put strain on the city’s infrastructure, while rural industries might have a labor shortage.  
  • Coastal Industrial Corridor at Risk – Sea level rise and intensifying cyclones pose serious hazards to India’s main coastal industrial corridors. The biggest container port in India, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, had to close due to Cyclone Nisarga in 2020, which caused widespread supply chain disruptions.

Measures to enhance Climate Resilience of Indian Industries

  • Industrial Symbiosis Parks – Create specialized industrial parks where various industries work together to make use of one another’s leftovers and waste products. This strategy not only lowers emissions and waste but also builds a more resilient ecosystem that is less reliant on outside resources. 
  • Climate-Responsive Architecture for Factories – Encourage and mandate the construction of industrial structures that are climate-adaptive. This might consist of:
    1. Structures that shade themselves according to the location of the sun
    2. Rainwater collection and natural cooling via green walls and roofs
    3. Subterranean factories to provide constant temperatures in regions prone to heat waves
    4. Industries that float in coastal areas to adjust to rising sea levels
  • AI-Driven Climate Risk Management – Create an artificial intelligence system that incorporates data from industrial operations, long-term forecasts, and real-time climate data. This setup could estimate the unique climatic risks associated with each factory while also adapting to production plans automatically in response to weather forecasts. 
  • Decentralized Microgrid Networks – Promote the formation of decentralized, climate-resilient energy networks across industries. Every factory inside the network would possess its own renewable energy generation and storage capabilities, including biomass, solar, and wind power. Because of their interconnection, these micro-grids may share electricity during blackouts. 
  • Vertical Integration of Agriculture and Industry – Encourage the growth of agro-industrial complexes with vertical integration. These would lessen the need for transportation and boost resilience to agricultural disruptions by combining the sectors of food processing and climate-controlled vertical farming. 
  • Underground Water Banking System – Establish a national network of facilities for recharging and storing subsurface aquifers. Large subterranean reservoirs would be formed by pumping excess water into these aquifers during monsoons. During dry spells, industries might potentially tap upon these stockpiles.

Way Forward

A multifaceted strategy is necessary to strengthen India’s industrial sector against climate change. It will be crucial to prioritize climate-responsive architecture, decentralized microgrid networks, and AI-driven climate risk management, among other creative adaptations and sustainable practices. Furthermore, promoting vertical integration and industrial symbiosis between industry and agriculture can lessen reliance and increase resilience. Addressing the shortage of water by putting in place an underground water banking system will provide a consistent supply during crucial times. These calculated actions would not only protect India’s industries but also steer them in the direction of a strong and sustainable future.

SOURCE: The Hindu

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