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Mitigating Climate Change

  • IASbaba
  • October 22, 2022
  • 0
Environment & Ecology
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In News: For the first time since it began over 30 years ago, the UNDP’s Human Development Report has warned that global human development measures have declined across most countries in the past two years.

Context:

  • Our world today is in turmoil, facing multiple, mutually reinforcing crises.
  • Even as we mount a fragile recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, war fuels a devastating energy, food, and cost-of-living crisis.
  • This comes against the backdrop of the greatest existential threat of all — the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.
  • As greenhouse gas emissions blanket the Earth, they trap the sun’s heat. This leads to global warming and climate change.

Major concerns of climate change:

  • Climate change is a disruption multiplier in a disrupted world, rolling back progress across the global Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Global Warming:
  • The last decade, 2011-2020, is the warmest on record.
  • Nine of the warmest years on record have come in the past decade alone.
  • Record-breaking heat waves, floods, droughts, and other extreme forms of weather
  • Wildfires start more easily and spread more rapidly when conditions are hotter.
  • Temperatures in the Arctic have warmed at least twice as fast as the global average.
  • Increased drought
  • Climate change is changing water availability, making it scarcer in more regions.
  • Droughts can stir destructive sand and dust storms
  • Deserts are expanding, reducing land for growing food.
  • Ocean Warming:
  • The ocean soaks up most of the heat from global warming.
  • Melting ice sheets also cause sea levels to rise, threatening coastal and island communities.
  • More carbon dioxide makes the ocean more acidic, which endangers marine life and coral reefs.
  • Loss of species
  • One million species are at risk of becoming extinct within the next few decades.
  • Forest fires, extreme weather, and invasive pests and diseases are among many threats related to climate change.
  • Health risks
  • Air pollution, disease, extreme weather events, forced displacement, pressures on mental health, and increased hunger and poor nutrition.
  • Every year, environmental factors take the lives of around 13 million people.
  • Changing weather patterns are expanding diseases, and extreme weather events increase deaths and make it difficult for health care systems to keep up.

Major causes of climate change:

  • Power generation:
  • Generating electricity and heat by burning fossil fuels causes a large chunk of global emissions.
  • Fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas are by far the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Manufacturing goods:
  • Manufacturing and industry produce emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels to produce energy for making things like cement, iron, steel, electronics, plastics, clothes, and other goods.
  • Deforestation:
  • Each year approximately 12 million hectares of forest are destroyed.
  • Since forests absorb carbon dioxide, destroying them also limits nature’s ability to keep emissions out of the atmosphere.
  • Food production:
  • Through deforestation and clearing of land for agriculture and grazing, digestion by cows and sheep, the production and use of fertilizers and manure for growing crops, and the use of energy to run farm equipment or fishing boats, usually with fossil fuels.
  • Powering buildings
  • Globally, residential and commercial buildings consume over half of all electricity.
  • Growing energy demand for heating and cooling, has contributed to a rise in energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions from buildings in recent years.

LIFE, a fresh perspective:

  • LIFE or Lifestyle for Environment mission was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at COP26 in November 2021.
  • The global mission is being launched from the Statue of Unity by Mr. Modi together with UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
  • The Prime Minister and Secretary-General are calling on all consumers across the world to become “Pro Planet People” by 2027, adopting simple lifestyle changes that can collectively lead to transformational change.
  • Rather than framing climate change as a ‘larger than life’ challenge, LIFE recognises that small individual actions can tip the balance in the planet’s favour.
  • Mindful choices cultivated by LIFE animate the spirit of guiding framework, information sharing and initiation of a global movement
  • Actions such as saving energy at home; cycling and using public transport instead of driving; eating more plant-based foods and wasting less; and leveraging our position as customers and employees to demand climate-friendly choices.
  • Many of the goals of LIFE can be achieved by deploying ‘nudges’, gentle persuasion techniques to encourage positive behaviour.
  • The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) employs proven nudging techniques such as discouraging food waste by offering smaller plates in cafeterias; encouraging recycling by making bin lids eye-catching; and encouraging cycling by creating cycle paths.
  • According to the UNEP, more than two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to household consumption and lifestyles — the urgent cuts to global emissions we need can only be achieved through widespread adoption of greener consumption habits.
  • The LIFE mission also recognises that accountability is relative to contribution. Emissions across the poorest half of the world’s population combined still fall short of even 1% of the wealthiest.
  • Those who consume the least, often the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society, will not be asked to consume less, but rather supported to participate in the green economy. Each ‘Pro Planet’ stakeholder is nudged according to differentiated approaches.

India’s track record:

  • India has a proven track record translating the aspirations of national missions into whole-of-society efforts.
  • The success of the Swachh Bharat Mission, which mobilised individuals and communities across socio-economic strata to become drivers of collective good health and sanitation is an example.
  • The Panchamrit targets announced by Mr. Modi at COP26, to support for the International Solar Alliance, the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and South-South cooperation platforms
  • With COP27 next month, and India set to assume the G20 Presidency weeks after, followed by the halfway mark to Agenda 2030 next year, we at Team UN India and our 26 entities are proud and committed partners in this mission to help give new lease of LIFE to climate action.

Onus on the developed world:

  • The Paris Agreement and the COP26 summit in Glasgow represent urgent, collective steps countries are taking to limit emissions.
  • Yet, the window for action is closing fast. Commitments we have now will not keep warming below the 1.5°C target that gives us the best chance of averting catastrophe.
  • With the narrative so focused on geo-politics, the scope for each of us to make a difference as individuals seems increasingly lost.
  • While governments and industry carry the lion’s share of responsibility for responding to the crisis, we as consumers play a large role in driving unsustainable production methods.
  • The average carbon footprint of a person in a high-income country is more than 80 times higher than that of a person in a least developed country.
  • It is common sense and only fair to call on the developed world to shoulder a proportionate share of this transition.
  • In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “the world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

Way forward:

  • Being the world’s fifth largest economy with vibrant businesses making enormous investments in renewables and electric mobility, to a world class public digital tech stack, India brings scale, expertise and legitimacy; a well-positioned founding UN Member State bridging the G20 and G77.
  • And while LIFE is a global vision, India is an excellent place to start. With over 1.3 billion people, if we achieve a true jan andolan here, the momentum generated will be enormous. As India leads, we see the world increasingly follow.

Source:  The Hindu

 

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