Moneycontrol
Jul 17, 2017 09:02 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

World Environment Day: Impact of climate change on India and steps taken to curb it

It is speculated that an abrupt change in the monsoon due to climate change could lead to a major crisis, resulting in more frequent droughts as well as greater flooding in large parts of India.

Sidhartha Shukla @shukla_05sid

As farmers in drought-hit states like Maharashtra look at the sky and pray to the rain god Indra, they wonder why the monsoon winds have been less favourable in the past few years.

Maybe the gods are not to be blamed for receding rains. Scientists believe that man-made climate change could be the culprit behind these frequent droughts.

With rise in global average temperatures, studies have observed that there has been a decline in monsoon rainfall since the 1950s in India.

It is speculated that an abrupt change in the monsoon due to climate change could lead to a major crisis, resulting in more frequent droughts as well as greater flooding in large parts of India.

To stop such a miserable scenario from becoming a reality the international community, under the Paris Agreement, agreed to keep temperature “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”.

It may seem insignificant -- the difference of half a degree of temperature – but it can lead to an exponential crisis for the ecosystem, global economy and life on earth.

A 2013 report by the World Bank reached a conclusion that if the world warms by 2°C widespread food and water shortages could unfold, together with prolonged droughts, unprecedented heat-waves, more intense rainfall and flooding, and a significant threat to energy production.

India, being an agriculture state, relies heavily on rains and such a scenario does not spell good news for us.

It’s not just agriculture that will be impacted by global warming India.

If average temperatures rise by 4°C, half the population of Kolkata and Mumbai could be in threat as these coastal metro cities are vulnerable to extreme river floods, more intense tropical cyclones, rising sea levels and very high temperatures, a study suggests.

Infographic: The cities most threatened by rising sea levels | Statista Statista

Also, climate change impacts on agriculture and livelihoods can increase the number of migrants from disaster affected areas and can lead to a refugee crisis in India.

Efforts to Tackle Climate Change

Responding to a question about US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from of the US from the Paris Accord, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi boldly said, “Paris or no Paris, our commitment to preserving the climate is for the sake of future generations.”

The Indian government has always accepted climate change to be a grave threat and has taken major steps to reduce carbon emissions.

Under the Paris Agreement in December 2015, India made a commitment to reduce its greenhouse emissions and to have 40 percent cumulative power capacity from non-fossil fuel based sources by 2030.

Expansion of renewable energy adoption has been at the center of these efforts. In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an five-fold increase in solar installation under the National Solar Mission to 100 GW by 2022.

To reduce dependency on fossil fuel-based sources of energy, the government plans to ramp up its renewable energy capacity to 175 GW by 2022.

As of April 30, 2017, India's renewable energy capacity stands close to 57 GW.

The government also raised the tax on coal in July 2014 from Rs 50 to Rs 100 per tonne, and doubled it again in March 2015 to Rs 200 per tonne. The tax collected contributed heavily to India’s clean energy fund.

India also plans to shift to cleaner modes of transportation and set itself a target that by 2030, not a single petrol or diesel car should be sold in the country.

New emission standards are brought in to phase out carbon coughing vehicles with less efficient engines. The Supreme Court of India also imposed a ban on sale of heavy diesel vehicles and during the 2016 budget announcement, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley imposed a ‘green tax’ of 2.5 percent on small cars and 4 percent on bigger cars and SUVs.

“Climate change does not respect borders; it does not respect who you are - rich and poor, small and big. Therefore, this is what we call 'global challenges,' which require global solidarity,” former UN General Secretary, Ban Ki-moon had said back in 2011.

Heeding to Ban Ki-moon’s wise words it should be kept in mind that putting the self-interests of a single country first and neglecting the responsibility towards the entire planet will only bring harm to all.

The climate is always changing and always has, but in this day and age humans are the major influencers of this change. It is a mess we got ourselves into and it is our collective duty now to clean it up.

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