A report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) claims that India is expected to lose an equivalent of 34 million jobs as a result of global warming and heat stress by the year 2030.
The ILO report named 'Working on a Warmer Planet: The Impact of Heat Stress on Labour Productivity and Decent Work' claims that the country will face productivity loss either because the temperature is too hot to work or because the workers have to work at a slower pace.
"The country most affected by heat stress in India, which lost 4.3 per cent of working hours in 1995 and is projected to lose 5.8 per cent of working hours in 2030. Moreover, because of its large population, India is in absolute terms expected to lose the equivalent of 34 million full-time jobs in 2030 as a result of heat stress," says the report.
"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," adds the report.
According to the report, the impact of heat stress is expected to increase in all countries in the Eastern Asia subregion between 1995 and 2030. The accumulated global financial loss due to heat stress is expected to reach USD 2,400 billion by 2030. And if no actions are taken now to alleviate the climate change these costs will be much higher than the given figure as the global temperatures are increasing.
The ILO report also states that millions of people employed in the brick-making industry in India are expected to suffer more due to this climatic change as they work in high temperatures with lack of on-site cooling facilities. The harsh working conditions, intense physical labour at the brick kilns and very short breaks during the work make them more vulnerable.
Heat stress is defined as generally occurring at above 35 degrees Celsius, in places where there is high humidity. Heat stress affects, above all, outdoor workers such as those engaged in agriculture and on construction sites. Excess heat at work is an occupational health risk and in extreme cases can lead to heatstroke, which can be fatal, said the report.
Temperatures exceeding 39-degree Celsius can kill. But even where there are no fatalities, such temperatures can leave many people unable to work or able to work only at a reduced rate. Some groups of workers are more vulnerable than others because they suffer the effects of heat stress at lower temperatures.
One of the main authors of the report and Chief of Unit in the ILO's Research department, Catherine Saget said that "In addition to the massive economic costs of heat stress, we can expect to see more inequality between low and high-income countries and worsening working conditions for the most vulnerable, as well as the displacement of people. To adapt to this new reality appropriate measures by governments, employers and workers, focusing on protecting the most vulnerable, are urgently needed