It’s impossible for a human mind to remain worried about a distant problem for far too long, no matter how colossal it may seem. That’s precisely what’s happened to the collective intellect of India.
- The ongoing Covid-induced crisis has proved the myopic nature of the state of affairs in India.
- Climate change assessment report says temperature to rise over Indian region by 4.4 degrees C.
- Being the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, India should commit to net-zero emissions.
- India needs to ramp up renewable energy capacity to meet power demand in future.
- Adoption of external carbon pricing policy – the need of the hour.
With the way Indians have approached the Covid crisis, one thing has been corroborated. That we humans are prone to seek complacency as soon as things appear to be normal, as soon as we think we are out of the woods. The second wave of Covid has mocked our complacency with a greater vengeance, sparing no one. Hence, one thing that’s established in the wake of our collective response to the crisis is ‘humans are short-sighted, myopic and self-centred.’ Furthermore, if the handling of the second wave of Covid is anything to go by, India is going to fare very badly if we don’t resolve the environmental challenges of climate change now.
In fairness, we all are, despite our socio-economic status, intrinsically wired to ignore all the premonitions, despite them painting a grim picture of our distant future.
Average temperature expected to rise by 4.4 degrees C: Report
In 2020, India for the first time issued a climate change assessment report, wherein it said that by the end of the 21st century the average temperature over India is expected to rise by over 4.4 degrees Celsius. This is worrisome!
For the uninitiated, according to the Paris climate agreement goal, the target is to limit global warming below 2 degree Celsius, ideally 1.5 degree Celsius. If the projection were to come true, then it would result in an increase in the frequency of heat waves, a rise in sea level and an increase in the intensity of tropical cyclones.
India should consider committing to Net Zero Emissions
Being a developing economy, one thing is clear that with rapid industrialization and urbanization in the future, India will be contributing more and more to greenhouse emissions. So it only makes sense that it commits to a net-zero emission target, which doesn’t mean reducing the emissions to zero. But rather it’s a mechanism whereby the emissions contributed by a nation are compensated by either absorption or removal of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The absorption of greenhouse gases can take place if we focus on developing carbon sinks, like forests. Removal of such gases can happen with the help of technologies, like carbon capture and storage. Being the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, it will help the matters if India forgoes the argument that it’s developed nations who should be making an extra effort since they are the ones who contributed greatly to these emissions.You will find more infographics at Statista
Need to ramp up renewable energy capacity building
To its credit, India has leapfrogged its way forward when it comes to building renewable energy capacity. India has reduced its emission intensity by 21 per cent over 2005 levels. And it is the fourth largest in the world when it comes to building renewable energy capacity. However, what needs to be kept in mind is by the year 2050, our power demand is going to ratchet up to 2,300 GW from our present demand of 170.6 GW. Therefore, there’s no room for complacency. We must ramp up our renewable energy capacity building to meet our power demand in the future.You will find more infographics at Statista
E-vehicles dominating roads seem far-fetched
Carbon dioxide is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases, and every time we sit in our cars or take a flight, we need to remind ourselves that with every ride we’re contributing to the ever-increasing carbon footprint. The Indian Government has taken steps to push for e-mobility. For instance, the FAME scheme was introduced in 2015 to promote the use of electric vehicles in India.
Subsequently, Fame II was introduced in 2019 with an outlay of ~10,000 crores, of which ~1,000 crores has been earmarked for building charging stations. Recently, the new vehicle scrappage policy was announced in this year budget that is likely to boost the adoption of e-vehicles in India. However, it will be a long while before we can see the dominance of e-vehicles on road. Since it’s a consumer-driven market, it’s imperative that the citizens become more forthcoming about the idea. Also, the lack of infrastructure and space to build charging stations make the goal look a tad bit far-fetched.
40% populace to have no access to drinking water by 2030: NITI Aayog
The effect of destruction of water bodies on climate change is ginormous. Water bodies help in maintaining and restoring the ecological balance. They help in replenishing groundwater, provide a source of drinking water, support biodiversity and control floods. At present, India is staring at a huge water crisis.
As per a World Bank study, water scarcity will account for a 6% loss in the country’s GDP by 2050. Moreover, another NITI Aayog report suggested 40% population will have no access to drinking water by 2030. The IMD observed a decline in rainfall by 72% in the year 2018 as compared to 2017. Besides, as per a report released in June 2019, over 44% of Indian regions were declared to be staring at prolonged drought-like conditions. It’s also been repeatedly reported that around 2,00,000 people die every year for the want of adequacy of safe drinking water. All these figures make for a compelling case to restore, replenish and replenish our water bodies on a war footing.
Watch: India’s Water Crisis to engulf 40% of its populace by 2030
External carbon pricing policy, NEED of the hour
Carbon pricing is one of the popular ways, which in simple terms ask polluters to shell out money for contributing to greenhouse emissions in the atmosphere. In India, a coal tax is levied at ~400 per tonne of carbon emissions. Besides, around 40 big companies have opted for internal carbon pricing. However, India needs to soon come up with a carbon pricing policy to meet its climate change goal. It will help in boosting awareness about climate change among people, and perhaps compel them to adopt for more eco-friendly means.
Existential crisis demands participation of each one of us
Will we be able to deal with the problem of climate change in a timely manner, or are we going to wait for an apocalypse to jolt us? It’s an existential crisis, the one which needs the participation of each one of us, not the governments alone. It is important to note that some of the greenhouse gases remain in the earth’s atmosphere for hundreds of years before breaking down. It implies that once these gases accumulate in the earth’s atmosphere, they continue to affect the climate for several years. So, therefore, there’s absolutely no room for complacency. India honouring commitments on climate change is good, but not enough.