India finally has a roadmap in place to deal with Climate Change. According to a Climatescope report by Bloomberg India is now the biggest market globally for the auction of renewable energy, and the second largest market to draw clean energy investments.
The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has also vowed to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022. India increased its contribution to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for the next four years to 15 million (from 12 million) to help mitigate global climate change issues. It also aims that by 2030, 40 percent of its power generation will be from non-fossil fuels. India is also working towards creating 3 billion tonnes of carbon sink by planting more trees by 2030.
While these are all great efforts, unfortunately, Climate Change is moving at a much faster rate, than our government and policymakers are. What makes the problem worse is the lack of involvement of Indian citizens to tackle this problem which can potentially change their lives, and even kill many. As we move onto 2019, a good place to start would be to take a look back at the last year and get an assessment of what we are up against and fight Climate Change as the biggest battle that matters at this point. In 2018, several studies and reports sounded an alarming bell for India as far as climate change is concerned. The most worrisome among them was an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the impacts of global warming.
To begin with, the report that was released in October 2018 stated, “Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.”
The report also said, “Warming from anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial period to the present will persist for centuries to millennia and will continue to cause further long-term changes in the climate system, such as sea level rise…”
When the sea level does rise, India will be one of the countries to be considerably affected. For starter, India has a coastline that stretches over roughly 7000 Km and a sea level rise will prove to be devastating for a large number of population that reside along the coastline, who will not only have to face natural calamities but is likely to be uprooted from these places.
In the last few years, India’s heat wave problems have also magnified. According to IPCC prediction, Kolkata in India (and Karachi in Pakistan) are likely to be the worst hit and may face the kind of heat waves that took many lives in 2015.
The report also claims that Climate Change can multiply poverty, due to the lack of food security, unemployment etc. This fact was further corroborated by a world bank report.
According to a World Bank study released in June, Climate change can drastically affect the living standard in India. The report said that Climate Change may cost India 2.8 percent of GDP, and decline the living conditions of almost half of India’s population by 2050.
“India’s average annual temperatures are expected to rise by 1.00°C to 2°C by 2050 even if preventive measures are taken along the lines of those recommended by the Paris climate change agreement of 2015. If no measures are taken average temperatures in India are predicted to increase by 1.5°C to 3°C. ” warned the World Bank Report. According to the report, Mostly North and central states will be the worst hit, especially Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. According to the Economic Survey of 2018, Climate Change is also likely to reduce annual agricultural incomes by 15 to 25 percent.
Another crisis that India may face, thanks to Climate Change is Water scarcity. The changing rainfall patterns are causing water distress, according to a study quoted by Bloomberg. Levels in major reservoirs across India was observed to be ten percent lower, and in states like Andra Pradesh, the levels were half of normal, causing drinking water crisis in parts of the state. Scientists also warn that if immediate measures are not taken against climate change then the water flow rate in the Ganges river may increase by 100%
Despite all the ambitious plans to reduce carbon emission, India’s emission projections for this year is expected to rise by 6.3 %. The reason for this increased emission is being attributed to the 8% economic growth of the country. For India, to reduce emission rates isn’t the only problem, it has to also deal with several serious issues at the same time — like water scarcity, floods and many other natural disasters that are increasing as a consequence of Climate Change.
A big challenge that India, along with most of the nations of the world are facing today is not only to fight climate Change but also to maintain their economic growth while doing so. And, while a balance can, of course, be struck, we will never win the battle against Climate Change without a few sacrifices.