10 ways India is affected by climate change and what can we do about it?

Climate change is one of the problems that have a significant magnitude while being complex as well. It affects all places in the world, and the effects show all over India too. Each of the developing nations is now figuring out the best of ways to deal with climate change.

India is listed amongst the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. Economic activities in India are in general denser as compared to the rest of the world. Another characteristic feature across India is high dependence over rainfall.

By 2020, India’s forests, soil, air and water are going to be under more pressure, as compared to other countries. Hence countering climate change becomes exceedingly important in such circumstances.

Let us take a look at 10 ways India is affected by climate change and what can we do about it:

  • Environmental Hazards

Climate change renders its effect over intensity, magnitude and frequency of floods and draughts. While the solution lies in countering climate change, being well prepared for the threats is an equally important safeguard.

This comes in the form of helping vulnerable communities figure out ways to deal with variable rainfall, such as irrigation and planting draught tolerant crops. Similarly, management of water resources, making sound strategies to meet rising sea levels and creating institutions that meet varied needs well across river basins is going to help.

  • Progressing in a low-carbon manner

Renewable sources of energy are important ways to mitigate effects of climate change by reducing CO2 emissions in the environment. They alternately come by as ways to bring power efficiency to the people in India who lack access to electricity. As of 2018, only six state households has access to electricity in India, among them are Gujarat, Goa, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

A dedicated strategy to achieve the objective of access to electricity for all households is called for. This must come in the format of climate investments devised out strategically. It makes the economy resilient, as progress takes place in a low carbon manner. 

  • Countering low agricultural productivity

Climate change renders its effects over rainfall and may lead to situations wherein agricultural productivity is low as a result of insufficient rainfall.

One of the ways of overcoming the challenge is reviving tank systems, which prevailed in India centuries back as well. This works effectively in Karnataka, which is among the driest states in India. Similar projects have been underway in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu as well. They improve agricultural productivity and raise farmers’ incomes.

  • Adhering by the global climate change policy

Among the nations who emit greenhouse gases in maximum amounts into the environment each year, India lies at the fourth spot. Paris Agreement, 2015 is the most recent environment accord of leaders of nations. It was conducted by the UN.

In the accord, 197 nations promised to cut emissions, in order to keep global warming up by 1.5°C only, as compared to pre-industrial levels. Each nation set distinct targets for itself. India promised to cut its emission intensity by 33-35% by 2030, in comparison with 2005.

India’s policies seem pretty much on track to keep global temperature rise within 2°C.

  • Lowering coal dependency in India

Coal comes by as an important area of attention at a national level. Nearly 68% of India’s greenhouse gases emissions are a resultant of energy production – which majorly relies over coal power plants.

However, India’s governance is now attempting to reduce usage of coal by making feasible investments towards renewable sources of energy. This comes in the format of making incentives available for private sector investments and expanding the capacity. Odds are high that by 2040, most of India’s energy production will come in the form of renewable energy.

  • Reforms in agricultural policies

An important cross section of India’s fiscal resources is oriented towards uplifting the farmers. There are some cases, however, where the policies counter fire.

With fertilizer subsidies, electricity and minimum support price, farmers grow paddy, which is a water intensive crop. They may do so even if their land is not best suited for growing the crop. This happens in places like Punjab. This results in a wider spread of crop burning and aggravates climate change. A frequent assessment of the impact of agricultural policies would help in this regard. 

  • Ensuring growth in an environment friendly way

Climate change calls for balancing priorities in between the present and the future. It comes by keeping the goals holistic.

Attempts to merely maximize GDP do not address the potential of prosperity for the future in entirety. A criterion for defining prosperity for the future may come in the form of UN’s Inclusive Wealth Index. It defines three classifications of capital, natural (land and forests), human (education), and produced (infrastructure). India’s inclusive wealth continues to grow.

  • Reducing the amount of meat consumption and production

India is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and is behind China and US only. India emits over 2000 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year. 9% of the same can be attributed to the food we consume. Greenhouse gases are produced by growing, processing, transporting, storing cooking and disposing the food.

Meat produces a significant excess amount of greenhouse gases, as compared to vegetarian meals. Hence it is preferable for Indians to go vegan or vegetarian, or reduce the amount of meat they consume.

  • Defining  the peak emission year

Current trends over climate change must be reversed with an immediate effect in order to prevent hazardous consequences. They include heatwaves. The impacts are likely to reflect in the form of humanitarian crisis, effects over health, and fewer employment opportunities.

The world needs to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Carbon emissions reduced for 3 years, 2014, 2015 and 2016.  Then they increased again for 2017 and 2018. We are presently at the highest global carbon emission levels. The emissions must decrease for the welfare of the planet.

China has defined 2030 as its peak emission year, following which it will start reducing total emissions. As India defines the same, it will help meet climate change goals.

  • Demand for transport

Bicycles are common on Indian roads. With the increasing buying power, cars are going to be more common but they will increase Indians’ carbon footprint as well.

Hence India must introduce electric vehicles and make them more accessible. Similarly making public transport more sustainable will help. For these problems, the solutions must be considered, enacted, assessed and reenacted today.

Conclusion:

While India does its part to counter climate change at an individual, organizational, local and national levels, international co-operation is what is required to help restrict climate change. It’s a promise to a better future for the coming generations.

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