RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- CLIMATE: TIME TO ACT
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday gave a clarion call for a “global people’s movement” to bring about a behavioral change to deal with climate change as he made a path-breaking pledge to more than double India’s non-fossil fuel target to 450 gigawatts. It comes a day after Prime Minister Modi and US President Donald Trump shared the stage at a gala event in Houston on Sunday and displayed a close friendship and a common vision on fighting terrorism. But the US and India differ on the issue of climate change. Trump withdrew from the Paris climate deal in 2017 and blamed India and China for his decision, saying the agreement was unfair as it would have made the US pay for nations which benefited the most from the deal. Meanwhile, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg had one question for the global leaders assembled at the United Nations: “How dare you?”
At the global climate summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a path-breaking pledge to more than double India’s non-fossil fuel target to 450 gigawatts.
Increasing the share of non-fossil fuels in India’s fuel mix to 450 gigawatts (GW) can transform country’s economy in three ways:
- Help to reduce India’s dependence on coal, the fossil fuel which contributes to 60% of the country’s total carbon emissions.
- Can make India a global leader in new cost effective solar technologies provided it can beat China, which leads in manufacturing of cheaper solar photo-voltaic and other equipment.
- Can give boost to electric mobility in India, which rightly has been the Centre’s focus in the recent months.
Why we need to act now
- Short-lived climate pollutants – including black carbon, methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and tropospheric ozone – are powerful climate forcers with global warming potentials many times that of carbon dioxide.
- They also significantly impact food, water and economic security for large populations throughout the world, both directly through their negative effects on public health, agriculture and ecosystems, and indirectly through their impact on the climate.
- The effects of short-lived climate pollutants represent a major development issue that calls for quick and significant global action.
- Measures to reduce short-lived climate pollutant emissions are often accessible and cost-effective, and if quickly implemented can bring immediate benefits for the climate as well as the health and livelihoods of millions.
Fast action, quick results:
· It is not enough to act. We have to act now.
· Delayed efforts to mitigate either carbon dioxide or short-lived climate pollutant emissions will have negative, and potentially irreversible, consequences for global warming, rising sea levels, agricultural yields, and public health.
· Due to their relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere, ranging from a few days to a few decades, short-lived climate pollutants respond very quickly to reduction efforts.
· If fast and widespread action is taken to reduce these pollutants, it is likely that we could cut methane emissions by 25% and black carbon by 75%, and eliminate high-global warming potential hydrofluorocarbons altogether in the next 25 years.
The practices and technologies needed to reduce short-lived climate pollutant emissions are accessible today and if quickly implemented can:
- Avoid an estimated 2.4 million premature deaths from outdoor air pollution annually by 2030
- Prevent as much as 52 million tonnes of crop losses per year
- Slow the increase in near-term global warming by as much as 0.6°C by 2050
- Prevent climate tipping points that can exacerbate long-term climate impacts and make adapting to climate change harder, especially for the poor and most vulnerable
A global effort to reduce both near- and long-term climate change, starting now, can rapidly bend the global warming curve and keep warming below 2°C.
Short-lived climate pollutants can be dangerous air pollutants with harmful effects for public health, ecosystems, and agricultural productivity. Acting now to reduce these pollutants contributes to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals related to air quality, health, and food security.
Major initiatives of the Government towards combating climate change:
- India is the only G20 country who’s pledge is considered sufficient by an independent regulator called Carbon Tracker Initiative.
- As mentioned we have doubled our targets for for renewable.
- Government is focused on action.
- We are 18% of the world’s population but consuming only 6% of the energy.
- National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)
- International Solar Alliance (ISA)
- State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC)
- FAME Scheme for E-mobility
- Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for Smart Cities
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
- UJALA scheme
- Swachh Bharat Mission
Challenges in addressing climate change:
- Regional Inequality:
- The principle of Common but differentiated responsibilities was proposed to tackle climate change by addressing the regional inequality.
- However, the indifferent behaviour by the developed countries has led to partial success of many global initiatives. Eg. Kyoto Protocol.
- Developed Countries not taking responsibility:
- Historical emissions and pollution caused due to industrial revolution is not accepted by the industrialized nations.
- Developed nations are unwilling to accept the responsibility and are moving away from global agreements. Eg. USA rejecting the Paris deal.
- Huge amount of funds are required for adaptation and mitigation measures to be adopted.
- For eg: electric mobility, certainly is a green measure, but is actually expensive, in immediate terms, in terms of cost per vehicle kilometre.
- The cost of shifting into renewable energy is also a fiscal challenge to most countries.
- Many adaptation and mitigation measures need sophisticated technologies and Research and Development which is an impediment to many developing and small island nations.
- Commercialization of technology in form of Patents, evergreening has made it unaffordable.
- Increasing use of fossil fuels.
- Complex linkages among emissions, concentrations, climate changes, and impacts.
- Lack of certainty about the details of future climate change.
- Significant time lags in human response systems.
- Risks, judgments about risk, and adaptation needs are highly variable across different contexts.
- Localized level work.
- We have technology but need to work on R and D to reach our targets.
- The real challenge is to get other developed countries on board.
- Wealthy nations like the U.S., and those of the EU argued that emissions from developing countries are consistently rising and they need to commit to more serious emission cuts. A consensus needs to be developed at the earliest.
- Ban on single use plastic will be one of the game changer
- The ‘developing versus developed country’ schism needs to be diluted at the earliest and Developed Countries should avoid watering down the CBDR principle envisaged in earlier agreements.
- We should not treat climate change as an environmental problem but need to address it as developmental challenge.
- Investment in R&D is needed to spur innovations in sustainable climate-friendly and climate-proof productivity, and the private sector can help on this.
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