Climate urgency: India and the world

The year 2020 broke records when it came to climate change. The need of the hour is to implement sustainable measures to reverse the tide.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report was released last month, at a time when the COVID-19 crisis dominated the world. 2020 set new records in terms of rise in extreme weather events, including wildfires and hurricanes, and in the melting of glaciers and ice at both poles. According to the report, despite a brief dip in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions caused by the pandemic, the world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century – far beyond the 2015 Paris Agreement goals.

Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement is a climate pact adopted by 195 Parties on December 12, 2015 to address climate change. It aims at arresting the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and urges the Parties to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Climate urgency: India and the world

Where the world is heading

In 2019, the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including land-use change, reached a new high
of 59.1 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (Gt CO2e). Over the last decade, the top four emitters (China, US, EU27+UK and India) have contributed to 55% of the total GHG emissions. However, GHG emissions are declining in Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) economies and increasing in non-OECD economies.

COVID connection

The pandemic might have caused a dip in 2020 emissions, but this was only temporary without a dramatic or planned shift to low-carbon economies. The 2019 figures mean that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide continue to grow. Carbon dioxide emissions are predicted to fall up to 7% as a result of the pandemic slowdown. Once economies heat up again after the pandemic, emissions will bounce back.

Weather events in India and the world

India experienced an exponential increase in extreme weather events between 1970 - 2019, with a marked acceleration from 2000 - 2019. Since 2005, at least 55 or more districts in India witnessed extreme flood events year-on-year, which implies that 97.51 million people are exposed to extreme flood events in India annually.

With the surge in El Niño disturbances and micro climatic changes, droughts will only increase the uncertainties related to agriculture and rural livelihoods. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) ranks India first in terms of global flood
hotspots, followed by China and the USA. Countries across the world are increasingly facing economic and social risks due to climate change.

Green pandemic recovery

The pandemic is a warning from Nature that we must act on climate change, nature loss and pollution. It also provides an opportunity for a recovery that puts the world on a 2°C pathway. A green sustainable pandemic recovery could cut up to 25% of the emissions.

A green recovery could put emissions in 2030 at 44 Gt CO2e – within the range of emissions that give a 66% chance of holding temperatures to below 2°C. Measures to prioritise include direct support for zero-emission technologies and infrastructure, reducing fossil fuel subsidies, no new coal plants, and promoting Nature-based solutions.

In other words we need a sustainable pandemic recovery that prioritises climate action and can protect human health, jobs and economics and limit global warming.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 1:19:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/brandhub/climate-urgency-india-and-the-world/article33600024.ece

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