Climate change is one of the problems that has a significant magnitude and at the same time, its complex. It affects the world, but much it’s more pronounced in India.
With a population of more than 1.3 billion, economic activities in India are in general denser as compared to the rest of the world. India’s land and water resources, apart from the air-quality are under growing pressure. Another characteristic feature across India is its high dependence over rainfall, as a significant amount of population still depends on agriculture for their livelihood. 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:
1. Environmental Hazards
Climate change affects the frequency of floods and draughts. While the solution lies in countering climate change, being well prepared for these threats is equally important.
This comes in the form of helping farmers figure out ways to deal with variable rainfall through water management, irrigation and planting draught tolerant crops.
2. 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 and at the same time bring electricity to households who still does not have access to it.
3. 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.
4. 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. The Paris Agreement, 2015 is the most recent environment accord of leaders of nations.
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.
India’s policies seem pretty much on track to keep global temperature rise within 2°C.
5. Lowering coal dependency in India
Nearly 68% of India’s greenhouse gases emissions are a result of energy production – which majorly relies over coal power plants.
However, the Indian government is now attempting to reduce usage of coal by making feasible investments, offering incentives and expanding capacity of renewable sources of energy. Chances are high that by 2040, most of India’s energy production will come in the form of renewable energy.
6. 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 backfire.
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.
7. Ensuring growth in an environment friendly way
Climate change calls for balancing priorities in between the present and the future. Attempts to merely maximize GDP do not address the potential of prosperity for the future in entirety.
A criterion such as the, UN’s Inclusive Wealth Index which defines capital, natural (land and forests), human (education), and produced (infrastructure) is a good way to begin.
8. Reducing the amount of meat consumption and production
India is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China and US. 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 produced while growing, processing, transporting, storing, cooking and disposing food contributes heavily to it.
Meat produces much more greenhouse gases, as compared to vegetarian meals. Hence it is preferable to go vegan or vegetarian, or reduce the amount of meat consumed.
9. Defining the peak emission year
Current trends over climate change must be reversed with an immediate effect in order to prevent hazardous consequences such as heatwaves. The impact otherwise is likely to reflect in the form of humanitarian crisis and effects over health.
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.
10. 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.
While India does its part to counter climate change, international co-operation is what will help restrict climate change. It’s a promise to a better future for the coming generations.