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The Climate Agenda

The 24th Conference of Parties (CoP-24) is taking place in Katowice, Poland. It is intended to act as a guide to operationalise the Paris Climate Pact. Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said India was expected to surpass commitments made in Paris in 2015. That means India will lower its emission intensity of GDP by 33-35% from 2005 levels by 2030. At the same time, it will raise the share of renewable sources in energy generation. But the Indian scene is bleak. India is the third highest contributor to global carbon emissions. Global carbon emissions are likely to reach their highest levels this year. Scientific cassandras warn that global temperatures may be spiked by around 3-5 degree Celsius by the end of the century. Science fiction may turn into scientific fact. The developing world will be the worst affected. But the developed nations will also be devastated. Donald Trump may not be aware of the impending calamity.

The irony about India is that it is not in a position to control the extraction of fossil fuels like coal in the different states because that activity is being touted as a ‘livelihood.’ This extraction of coal through unscientific mining methods has all but destroyed our rivers and farmlands. Sir David Attenborough told the UN climate change conference in Poland, “The collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” Attenborough is correct and the sad fact is that nations know this and have worked out with scrupulous care, what needs to be done to avoid this catastrophe and to mitigate the effects of climate change but nothing is being done.

Figures released by the University of East Anglia for the conference in Katowice show that global carbon emissions will rise by nearly 3% in 2018 – the highest ever. This is both astonishing and terrifying especially when the need to diminish the emissions is urgent. The main driver of this growth has been the increased use of coal, which is rapidly approaching its previous peak level, from 2013.

 It is time that all nations – developed, developing and under developed joined hands to face the crisis. But the world is yet unwilling to share its resources. Climate financing clouds discussions at successive global climate meets. Richer nations create most hassles. Unless the discord over fund sharing is resolved India can do little at the international level. It can at best set aside a larger share of its GDP to combat the climate threat.


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