Tue. Jul 7th, 2020

India’s brush with notorious RCP8.5

2 min read

A new report from the Indian government on climate-change impacts and forecasts paints a grim scenario if greenhouse gas emissions are not controlled right now. Trouble is, the “grim impact” is based on the notorious RCP8.5 extreme scenario that scientists such as the University of Colorado’s Matthew Burgess and colleagues now say should not be relied upon. (Read Ross McKitrick’s recent column for Financial Post.)

According to India Climate Dialogue, the report forecasts that unless steps are taken, between 2070 and 2099 average temperature over India will rise by approximately 4.4 degrees Celsius relative to the recent past (1976–2005 average). The projections are based on “the worst-case scenario used by climate modellers worldwide.”

So far, though, the Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn’t seem to be “following the science.” Last week India opened coal mining to private investment, a move described as an attempt to create hundreds of thousands of jobs following an economic slump triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Modi said the move would help reduce India’s reliance on energy imports and develop the eastern and central parts of the country.

Whether the coal investment scheme is a good idea or not, Modi is right to be appearing to ignore the warnings that India is heading for a scorching increase in temperatures.

Guelph University economist Ross McKitrick comments that Indian economic growth from expanded use of fossil fuels “will add thousands of dollars of annual income to the poor in India. Climate change will subtract a few per cent from that at most. It is still a massive net gain.”

The use of RCP8.5 represents another piece of political “science.” Any forecast from an RCP8.5 scenario is an impossible outlier, adds McKitrick. “It’s worthless.”

— Terence Corcoran

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