India could face productivity loss equivalent to 34 million jobs in 2030: UN

India could face productivity loss equivalent to 34 million jobs in 2030: UN

India is projected to lose 5.8 per cent of working hours in2030, a productivity loss equivalent to 34 million full-time jobs, due toglobal warming, particularly impacting agriculture and construction sectors, areport by the UN labour agency said.  

The International Labour Organization (ILO) released itsreport 'Working on a Warmer Planet – The Impact of Heat Stress on LabourProductivity and Decent Work' which said that by 2030, the equivalent of morethan two per cent of total working hours worldwide is projected to be lostevery year, either because it is too hot to work or because workers have towork at a slower pace.   

"Projections based on a global temperature rise of1.5°C by the end of the twenty-first century, and also on labour force trends,suggest that, in 2030, 2.2 per cent of total working hours worldwide will belost to high temperatures – a productivity loss equivalent to 80 millionfull-time job," the report said.  

It said that the accumulated global financial loss due toheat stress is expected to reach USD 2,400 billion by 2030.

"If nothing is done now to mitigate climate change,these costs will be much higher as global temperatures increase even furthertowards the end of the century," the report said.

Countries in Southern Asia are the most affected by heatstress in the Asia and the Pacific region and by 2030, the impact of heatstress on labour productivity is expected to be even more pronounced.

In particular, up to 5.3 per cent of total working hours(the equivalent of 43 million full-time jobs) are projected to be lost, withtwo-thirds of Southern Asian countries facing losses of at least two percent. 

In a dire warning, the report said that the country mostaffected by heat stress is India, which lost 4.3 per cent of working hours in1995 and is projected to lose 5.8 per cent of working hours in 2030.

Because of its large population, India is in absolute termsexpected to lose the equivalent of 34 million full-time jobs in 2030 inproductivity as a result of heat stress.

"Although most of the impact in India will be felt inthe agricultural sector, more and more working hours are expected to be lost inthe construction sector, where heat stress affects both male and femaleworkers," it said.

National-level GDP losses are projected to be substantial in2030, with reductions in GDP of more than five per cent expected to occur inThailand, Cambodia, India and Pakistan due to heat stress.

Heat stress is defined as generally occurring at above 35degrees Celsius, in places where there is high humidity. Heat stress affects,above all, outdoor workers such as those engaged in agriculture and onconstruction sites. Excess heat at work is an occupational health risk and inextreme cases can lead to heatstroke, which can be fatal, the UN agency said.

The report also noted that the western Indian city ofAhmedabad incorporated a cool roofs initiative into its 2017 Heat Action Plan,notably by providing access to affordable cool roofs for the city's slumresidents and urban poor, ie those who are most vulnerable to the healtheffects of extreme heat.

The initiative aims to turn the roofs of at least 500 slumdwellings into cool roofs, improve the reflectivity of roofs on governmentbuildings and schools, and raise public awareness.

"The impact of heat stress on labour productivity is aserious consequence of climate change," said Catherine Saget, Chief ofUnit in the ILO's Research department and one of the main authors of thereport.

"We can expect to see more inequality between low andhigh-income countries and worsening working conditions for the mostvulnerable."

With some 940 million people active in agriculture aroundthe world, farmers are set to be worst hit by rising temperatures, according tothe ILO data, which indicates that the sector will be responsible for 60 percent of global working hours lost from heat stress, by 2030.

Construction will also be "severely impacted",with an estimated 19 per cent of global working hours lost at the end of thenext decade, ILO says.   Other at-risksectors include refuse collection, emergency services, transport, tourism andsports, with southern Asian and western African States suffering the biggestproductivity losses, equivalent to approximately five per cent of working hoursby 2030.

The report noted that a labour market challenge pertains tothe high rates of informality in the region, particularly in Southern Asia andSouth-East Asia.

As many as 90 per cent of all workers in India, Bangladesh,Cambodia and Nepal work informally. Although the prevalence of informality canto a great extent be explained by the high share of employment in agriculture,informality is also pervasive in other sectors, including construction,wholesale and retail trade, and the accommodation and food service industries.

"Temperatures exceeding 39°C can kill. But even wherethere are no fatalities, such temperatures can leave many people unable to workor able to work only at a reduced rate. Some groups of workers are morevulnerable than others because they suffer the effects of heat stress at lowertemperatures," the report said.

Older workers, in particular, have lower physiologicalresistance to high levels of heat and represent an increasing share of workers– a natural consequence of population ageing.

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