India is currently the 4th largest emitter of carbon dioxide and will be among the first few countries that will get affect drastically by the rising temperature.
In March 2019, hundreds of students walked out of their schools to demand the Indian government to take action.
Climate change has hardly made up a part of any manifesto of any political party, be it the BJP or Communist Party of India (Marxist). It is a non-issue for the parties and also for the voters.
Do we really need to take climate change seriously?
A little history
IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.
In one of its special report, IPCC scientifically proved that rise of 1.5°C global temperatures above pre-industrial levels will have severe impacts. Also, these impacts will be first realised by the developing nations due to their geographical position.
The Paris Agreement made in COP 21 (Conference of Parties, where all member nations come together to deal with the issue of climate change) states that all parties would strive to keep the increase in global average temperatures “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”
Technically, each country has a carbon budget, in which the carbon that can be emitted, for temperatures to not reach 2°C above pre-industrial levels is divided among nations according to their population and the already emitted carbon, in past, is reduced.
According to this, the developed countries have almost used up their carbon budget, whereas, the developing countries have significant amount of carbon left to emit.
At first, India was the biggest promoter of the idea that since, developing nations have amounts of carbon left to emit, developed nations should cut down their emissions and this should be binding.
Developing nations are not developed as some of the western countries are, hence, the developing world needs to emit carbon to grow.
At the same time, U.S. propagated that since, India and China are the biggest emitters, currently, they should cut down their emissions as well. U.S. wanted a unilateral approach, where, it wasn’t treated differently.
The carbons that were emitted hundred years ago are showing their impact now and are currently contributing in warming up the climate.
Therefore, the carbons emitted by the developed countries when they were developing are having their impact on the climate now.
So, saying that India and China are contributing largely to climate change and this emission is the one affecting the climate in is not justifiable.
As per U.S.’s demand (as it did not want to cut down on its emissions), there are no binding emission cut down on any country. The countries can make pledge in COP but if it is not completed, they won’t be punished.
What India has been doing?
The party in power has been steadily eroding coastal ecosystems via Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notifications which allow real estate and infrastructure works in the intertidal zone along India’s coastline, despite the Union Minister of State for Environement, Mahesh Sharma, cautioning that rising sea levels could inundate settlements along the coast.
The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act has also been used to hand tribal land over to an energy conglomerate.
Over 1,320 square acres of agricultural land has been granted to the Adani Group in Jharkhand to construct a thermal power plant.
Also, the fund, National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF), meant for generating clean energy and to reduce coal dependency in India has been diverted to states to lessen the revenue loss after the roll-out of the goods and services tax.
The UN has given our Prime Minister “Champion of the Earth” title for heading the International Solar Alliance (ISA), organised to make a shift to solar energy.
However, there is no clarity on how the government plans on funding the $21 million required for the alliance, or on how the target of producing 1,000 gigawatts of solar energy will be met by 2021.
The party in its manifesto said that it will clean the Ganga for its purity and uninterrupted flow. On the ground the reality is very different.
The Swachh Bharat Mission could have had great impacts but it failed because focus was advertisement and not scientific management.
What should be the focus?
Rattani, in his study shows how institutional, systemic and process barriers, including financial constraints, inter-ministerial coordination, lack of technical expertise and project clearance delays, stand as major challenges in the efficient implementation of the missions.
India’s model, currently, is not ecologically friendly. The condition of climate is very uncertain but the scientists have been struggling to give proof to the authorities.
National Green Tribunal (NGT) needs to transform from a tribunal into an environmental court, as independence and accountability are necessary for sustainable development.
It has already been late, the climate is changing and with the rate of emissions currently done, the temperatures will definitely rise to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
And, the ones to be affected first are the poor and disadvantaged.
Image credits: Google images
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