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Published:Wednesday, October 24, 2018 5:44 PM

Combating Climate Change

Climate Change

Addressing the climate change is the need of the hour today. With half of the world’s population living in urban areas emitting 75% of the carbon dioxide primarily from energy use makes this an absolute priority to avoid its worst impacts. The effects like imbalance in the natural systems, extreme weather conditions like severe floods, wildfires, draught & disastrous consequences are now clearly visible. Last year, the economic cost of climate related disasters was whooping $320 billion1.

The Paris agreement that aims to keep warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and limit the increase to 1.5°C is one such attempt to address the issue at global level. But the efforts of the world are nowhere close to this universal agreement. According to United Nations, the commitments met so far in the Paris agreement are just one-third of what is needed. There is a risk to bear irreversible damage that will be unable to recover if the actions are not taken quickly.

As per UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, more ambition & accelerated actions will be required by 2020. If current trends of emission are not reversed by 2020, it might not be possible to meet 1.5°C goal. There is also lack of strong leadership to take bold decisions to focus & move on the path of low carbon growth & resilience. Especially for countries that has major share in greenhouse gas emissions, only courageous & bold leadership can convert goals of Paris agreement into reality.

This calls for terminating subsidies for agricultural practices, high emitting fossil fuels and a shift towards renewable energy, climate-smart industry, & electric vehicles. It indicates closing coal-based power plants with better alternatives. This needs carbon pricing that signifies the true cost of carbon emissions. There is huge requirement of investments & innovation in energy efficiency across sectors such as buildings, industry & transport. Green financing by banks and innovation in financial & debt instruments will strengthen the vulnerable nations to combat the climate change.

Setting a price or tax on carbon emission i.e. calculation of price per ton of carbon that includes the social cost of emission is another means to fight climate change. A carbon pricing policy in 46 countries is adapted by using a carbon tax or carbon market having quotas for large polluters who get the option to buy or sell credits from other different countries.

International frameworks on Climate Change should include:

  1. Action to reduce deforestation: The most cost-effective way to reduce emissions is reducing deforestation. Reducing the loss of natural resources by initiating pilot programmes on large scale is the best possible way to reduce deforestation

  2. Technological cooperation: Deployment of low carbon technologies must be increased to five-fold. International cooperation on products standards in best way to boost energy efficiency.

As described earlier, the outlook of nations towards Paris climate agreement is discouraging. Countries such as America that announced to abandon the emission targets, Australia that scrapped its plans to put targets to reduce carbon emissions into law and Brazil that also intends to rollback are few of them running away from the climate-change war hence putting the Paris deal in passivity that is quite challenging & uncertainty over the success. It is the capitalism, economic interest of countries, investors and customers who want to become environment friendly could boost the participation in fighting climate change.

In view of developing countries, India has taken lead to combat climate change. Being a sixth largest producer of renewable energy & fifth largest producer of solar energy in world, India is progressing towards the target of setting-up 175 GW of generation capacity in its renewable energy portfolio. With installation of 300 million LED bulbs saving $2 billion & 4 GW of electricity, world’s first solar powered airport at Kochi are few steps to take lead in climate action. In a recent UN meeting held in September 2018, India has declared to reduce emission intensity of its GDP by 25 % over 2005 levels by 2020 & 33-35 % by 20302.

Though few countries are moving in right direction, but their pace is very slow. Climate change is the great challenge of this time and the lack of global leadership & sense of urgency to respond quickly has led countries to refuse and very few have acted on the vision. The bold climate commitments may encourage international leaders to restart with the next UN climate change meeting (COP 24) to be held in Poland in December 2018.

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