- GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
Unless climate change is tagged as a primary culprit, climate action will continue to falter.
Himalayan Glacier Melt & Global Warming
- The melting of the Himalayan glaciers that prompted the floods and landslides in Uttarakhand have the fingerprints of global warming.
- Reduced Albedo: As glacier cover is replaced by water or land, the amount of light reflected decreases further aggravating warming of atmosphere
Extreme Cold in Texas & Global Warming
- The extreme cold weather in Texas, is connected to Arctic-peninsula warming, at a rate almost twice the global average.
- Polar Vortex: Usually, there is a collection of winds around the Arctic keeping the cold locked far to the north. But global warming has caused gaps in these protective winds, allowing intensely cold air to move south — a phenomenon that is accelerating.
- India’s Climate Vulnerability: While HSBC ranks India at the top among 67 nations in climate vulnerability (2018), Germanwatch ranks India fifth among 181 nations in terms of climate risks (2020). But public spending does not reflect these perils.
- Impact of accumulated Carbon: Even if major economies speed up climate mitigation, catastrophes like Uttarakhand will become more frequent due to the accumulated carbon emissions in the atmosphere.
- Diluting of climate safeguards: Studies had flagged ice loss across the Himalayas, and the dangers to densely populated catchments, but policy response has been lacking. Similarly, Kerala ignored a landmark study calling for regulation of mining, quarrying and dam construction in ecologically sensitive places, which contributed to the massive floods and landslides in 2018 and 2019.
- Shift to Cleaner Energy Sources: Decisive switch is needed from highly polluting coal and petroleum to cleaner and renewable power sources.
- Need to announce Carbon Neutrality: India should announce a carbon neutrality target. China announced its Climate Neutrality targets in Oct 2020, likewise EU & Japan have also made announcements.
- Climate Budgeting: Explicitly including policies for climate mitigation in the government budget, along with energy, roads, health and education. Specifically, growth targets should include timelines for switching to cleaner energy.
- Climate Finance Mobilisation: The government needs to launch a major campaign to mobilise climate finance both from domestic and international sources. India’s Central and State governments must increase allocations for risk reduction, such as better defences against floods, or agricultural innovations to withstand droughts
Connecting the dots: