Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] Inclusive approach to combat Climate change

Events like climate change do not happen in isolation, neither the repercussions of climate change affect only any particular section of society. Any effective solution to mitigate climate change in India must take into account poverty, inadequate food distribution and lack of basic shelter.
By IASToppers
April 29, 2020

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Falling GDP
  • Vicious cycle
  • Positive steps by government
  • Keeping pace with Paris agreement
  • Sustainable solutions
  • India specific policies
  • Conclusion

Inclusive approach to combat Climate change

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Introduction:

India can’t have a piece-meal approach of fighting only food security or climate change. Any effective solution to mitigate climate change in India must take into account poverty, inadequate food distribution and lack of basic shelter.

Falling GDP:

  • India is ranked 129 of 189 countries — sandwiched between Nicaragua and Namibia — in the global listing on the Human Development Index.
  • There is nearly no social security provided by the state or private insurance in India to protect against events such as job loss that typically result from declining gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Given that our GDP growth rate is currently steadily declining from eight per cent in 2016 to currently six per cent, this further lack of social cushion provided by the state or private sector affects several aspects of the ecosystem we live within.
  • It reduces the need for the rich and the poor to truly dismantle inequality in India.

Vicious cycle:

  • GDP decline severely aggravates environmental degradation as it adversely affects livelihood that distracts individuals from being environmentally responsible.
  • Hungry stomachs cannot be thinking about saving the planet.
  • Further, there is little money to treat ailments resulting from environmental degradation. There is death, ill health, and habitat destruction caused by environmental degradation.
  • These translate into enormous costs for the economy as well, making it a dangerous, vicious circle of economic and environmental degradation that feeds into each other.
  • For example, air pollution from burning fossil fuels currently costs about 5.4 per cent of India’s GDP. Yet, the measures to counter the impact on human life of this environmental degradation is inadequate.
  • The spending of only about 1.25 per cent of the GDP on health further decreases with India’s GDP decline.

Positive steps by the government:

Many wind turbines and a large solar panel array in a desert valley, mountains in the distance and blue sky above. Palm Springs, California, USA
  • Since 2010, India has kick-started several national programmes to boost cleaner economic development.
  • These have focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean transport among others.
  • India has fared well in implementing energy efficiency policies, pushing solar energy, and replacing over 700 million street and household lights with energy-saving and long-lasting LEDs.
  • The state governments have played a massive role in developing regional climate strategies that offer important learnings for scalability and success.
  • In fact, the top 10 performing states on climate action have higher contributions to the national GDP, lower emissions intensity, better energy efficiency, higher utilisation of renewable energy potential and a higher percentage growth in forest cover.

Keeping pace with Paris agreement:

  • India’s per capita emissions today are 1.6 tonnes of CO2, which, because of our demographics, is well below the global average of 4.4 tonnes.
  • It is also because of our demographics and growing economy that India is vital for the success of the Paris agreement to keep the global temperature rise this century well below two degrees Celsius (°C).
  • India has therefore set a target of achieving 175 Gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2022, of which 100 GW is solar capacity addition and 60 GW is wind power capacity.
  • Over the past decade, both the energy and emission intensities of India’s GDP have decreased by more than 20 per cent, but total energy-related CO2 emissions continue to rise in India which indicates that we need to do more.

Sustainable solutions:

  • India needs to be far firmer on not building new coal-based power plants and transitioning the existing ones to renewable energy technologies
  • Building more coal plants could push India off the 1.5°C-compatible pathway.
  • India also needs to transition to electric private and public vehicles.
  • Looking for other sustainable solutions like the use of electric vehicles.
  • We cannot scientifically attribute the whole responsibility of increased rainfall and flood to global warming alone, it is also proved that climate change does play a role in increasing extreme precipitation events as well as desertification.
  • This means that there will be lands with massive rainfall or with no rain at all.
  • While each situation will need its own set of solutions, over all, we need to identify with all seriousness ecologically vulnerable zones, map them, and see what kind of protection can be given.
  • Being prepared early will avoid panic later.

India Specific policies:

  • Currently, a large part of what we hear about the effects of climate change or the solutions to mitigate it originate mostly from Europe.
  • We read and hear very little about how climate change is affecting India and the solutions that are working in the specific context of India.
  • Emerging economies such as India are grappling with immediate issues such as poverty, inadequate food distribution, lack of basic shelter, besides the effects of climate change.
  • Therefore, any effective solution to adapt to or mitigate climate change in these regions must take into account all or at least some of these challenges.
  • These issues affect each other and need to be addressed together in solutions for it.
  • Immediate challenges of food security, basic resources, and shelter, no longer must be an issue of conflict between the actions by the developed and developing world.
  • Instead, they need to be taken into account into solutions developed by Indian policy makers and the private sector for the solutions to be effective and successful.

Conclusion:

  • Events like climate change do not happen in isolation, neither the repercussions of climate change affect only any particular section of society. Hence, the need of the hour is to no longer have a piece-meal approach of only fighting food security or climate change. Rather, focussing on all the related human and social dimensions of climate change and stressing on India specific solutions.
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