India is projected to lose 5.8% of working hours in 2030, a productivity loss equivalent to 34 million full-time jobs, due to global warming, particularly impacting agriculture and construction sectors, a report by the UN labour agency said.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) released its report ‘Working on a Warmer Planet – The Impact of Heat Stress on Labour Productivity and Decent Work’ which said that by 2030, the equivalent of more than two per cent of total working hours worldwide is projected to be lost every year, either because it is too hot to work or because workers have to work at a slower pace.
“Projections based on a global temperature rise of 1.5°C by the end of the twenty-first century, and also on labour force trends, suggest that, in 2030, 2.2% of total working hours worldwide will be lost to high temperatures – a productivity loss equivalent to 80 million full-time jobs,” the report said.
It said that the accumulated global financial loss due to heat 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 further towards the end of the century,” the report said.
Countries in Southern Asia are the most affected by heat stress in Asia and the Pacific region and by 2030, the impact of heat stress on labour productivity is expected to be even more pronounced.
In particular, up to 5.3% of total working hours (the equivalent of 43 million full-time jobs) are projected to be lost, with two-thirds of Southern Asian countries facing losses of at least two percent.
In a dire warning, the report said that the country most affected by heat stress is India, which lost 4.3% of working hours in 1995 and is projected to lose 5.8% of working hours in 2030.
Because of its large population, India is in absolute terms expected to lose the equivalent of 34 million full-time jobs in 2030 in productivity as a result of heat stress.
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“Although most of the impact in India will be felt in the agricultural sector, more and more working hours are expected to be lost in the construction sector, where heat stress affects both male and female workers,” it said.
National-level GDP losses are projected to be substantial in 2030, with reductions in GDP of more than five percent expected to occur in Thailand, Cambodia, India, and Pakistan due to heat stress.