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TERI Bhuvan

Climate change has serious impacts on human health, natural ecosystems, and the economy. Major climate change impacts are listed below:

·         Agriculture: Climate change scenarios include higher temperatures, changes in precipitation, and higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations. These alterations in the  atmosphere have significant effects on plant’s/crop’s yield, growth rates, photosynthesis and transpiration rates, moisture availability, changes of water use and agricultural inputs such as pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers etc. Environmental effects such as frequency and intensity of soil drainage (leading to nitrogen leaching), soil erosion, land availability, reduction of crop diversity may also affect agricultural productivity.1 

Moderate warming and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may help some plants to grow faster. However, further warming, floods, and drought may reduce yields. Apart from crops Livestock might also be at risk, both directly from heat stress and indirectly from reduced quality of their food supply.2


·         Coastal Regions: Climate change threatens coastal areas, which are stressed by human activity, pollution, invasive species, and storms. These areas have more of socio-economic impacts of climate change such as negative impacts of sea level rise. The rise in sea level has a number of biophysical and socio economic impacts. These include loss of life & property and coastal habitats, infrastructure damage, increased flood risk, impacts on nearby agriculture through soil and water quality degradation.3 


·         Ecosystems: Climate change can alter where species live, how they interact, and the timing of biological events, which could fundamentally transform current ecosystems and food webs. Climate change can overwhelm the capacity of ecosystems to mitigate extreme events and disturbance, such as wildfires, floods, and drought. Mountain and arctic ecosystems and species are particularly sensitive to climate change. Projected warming could greatly increase the rate of species extinctions, especially in sensitive regions.2


·         Energy: Most of the impacts of climate change are associated with each other such that its impact on energy sector is that increases in temperature will likely increase our energy demand, as well as change our ability to produce electricity and deliver it reliably. New infrastructure investments may be necessary to meet increased energy demand, especially peak demand during heat waves, which refrains from contributing to climate change. Also, other impacts of Climate change could have significant sub impacts on energy such as intense storms could disrupt energy production and delivery by damaging electricity infrastructure, fuel delivery infrastructure and equipment, power plants, or storage facilities.2


·         Forests: Climate change will likely alter the frequency and intensity of forest disturbances, including wildfires, storms, insect outbreaks, and the occurrence of invasive species. The productivity and distribution of forests could be affected by changes in temperature, precipitation and the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Climate change will likely worsen the problems already faced by forests from land development and air pollution.2


·         Human Health: Various impacts of Climate change threaten health by affecting the food quality, the water quality and also the air quality which perhaps have significant linkages with the human health. Climate change can affect human health in two main ways: first, by changing the severity or frequency of health problems that are already affected by climate or weather factors; and second, by creating unprecedented or unanticipated health problems or health threats in places or times of the year where they have not previously occurred. Climate change can have a range of impacts on physical, mental, and community health such as a warmer climate is expected to increase the risk of illnesses and death from extreme heat and poor air quality. Increase in the frequency and strength of extreme events (such as floods, droughts, and storms) human health is threatened such as climate changes may expose more people to diseases.2


·         Climate Impacts on Water Resources: Water resources are important to both society and ecosystems. There exists a great dependence on reliable and clean supply of drinking water to sustain good health. Water is essential for agriculture, energy production, navigation, recreation, and manufacturing. Many of these uses put pressure on water resources, stresses that are likely to be exacerbated by climate change. In many areas, climate change is likely to increase water demand while shrinking water supplies which could perhaps give a rise to water conflict. This shifting balance would challenge water managers to simultaneously meet the needs of growing communities, sensitive ecosystems, farmers, ranchers, energy producers, and manufacturers. Climate changes will vary in different regions; potential effects include increased flooding and drought, water quality impairment, and salt water intrusion to coastal water supplies. Changes to our water resources affect many sectors, including energy production, infrastructure, human health, agriculture, and ecosystems.2

Source: 1) 2) 3)