Climate Change

The fight against Climate Change gains momentum

Glasgow, Scotland: The Conference of Parties (COP) 26 is the most significant summit organized in present times that aims to address emerging challenges from climate change.

COP 26 was initially scheduled for 2020 but, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the summit had to be postponed. The summit was then organized in November 2021 where leaders from across the globe gathered and discussed future agendas related to environmental protection and climate change.

The COP26 meeting is organized under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and 197 countries participated in the summit. However, its power for implementing the agendas and formulating new agendas fundamentally lies with the rich and developed countries. This is also because rich and developed countries like the United States of America, Germany and England are financially stable compared to developing countries.

Apart from this, most of the developing and least developed countries would find it extremely difficult, if not impossible to tackle the growing challenges from climate change without adequate financial aid from the developed countries.

Setting the agenda in COP26 in Glasgow

1. To achieve ‘Global Net Zero’ by 2050 and limit the increase in temperature to 1.5 degrees celsius. Global Net-Zero implies a drastic reduction in carbon emissions by stopping the usage of coal and other fossil fuels.

In order to achieve this goal, forest conservation becomes absolutely necessary. Apart from this, governments and businesses have to invest in transitioning into clean energy and dramatically phase out fossil fuel sources.

2. Protection of vulnerable countries and communities from the ever-increasing natural disasters due to climate change. The communities residing near sea and ocean coasts are extremely vulnerable and sensitive to the increasing climate change disasters. Keeping this in perspective, COP26 aims to address the issue of livelihood of such communities and empower them to ensure resilience.

3. The issue of financial aid has emerged as a controversial issue and this has become one of the main challenges in addressing climate change. Developing countries argue and demand that developed countries must pledge more financial aid, taking into account the historical emissions by developed countries. Without a proper mechanism for financial aid and contributions, it would be impossible to combat the challenges of climate change.

4. Working together is the way forward and in order to achieve the aim, ‘Climate Action’ has to be the centre of attention. For this purpose, various governments and non-government organizations, civil society, and businesses have to come together and work in collaboration with each other.

India’s New Pledge: India’s new pledges in COP26 combating climate change are novel and of great significance as a developing country. The Prime Minister represented India and pledged to achieve two main goals. First, to transition and meet more than 50% of the energy production through renewable and clean sources by 2030.

The second is to achieve the goal of ‘Net Zero’ by 2070. India has also pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 45% by 2030. It remains to be seen how the goals are implemented and how the policies are structured in the future.

Conference of Parties - 26 (COP 26) progress report

The COP26 summit on climate change which began on the 31st of October came to an end on 12 November 2021 and witnessed participation from most countries. Many environmentalists believe that world leaders missed a significant opportunity to tackle the problems posed by climate change.

According to civil society organizations, the meeting did not go as expected. However, it cannot be said that the discussion went in vain as there were a lot of aspects that paved a path for more deliberations on the issues of concern. Let us have a look at the success and challenges of the meeting.

Achievements of the Glasgow Climate Agreement

Glasgow summit was the first conference where talks were held on the use of fossil fuels and coal on a global platform. Around 40 countries took oath for the better usage of fossil fuels and to reduce pollution by fossil fuels.

However, America, China, India, and Australia did not participate in this oath-taking. Moreover, 140 countries deliberated on the declining rate of forests and saving them. Rich and developed countries agreed to fund 19 billion dollars towards the same. Around 100 countries pledged to reduce the emission of methane gas, which weakens the Earth’s ozone layer.

In the context of net-zero emissions, developed countries maintained their 2050 goal. On the other hand, some developing countries aimed for 2060 to achieve a similar goal, while India maintained that it will achieve net-zero emissions by 2070. Net-zero emission implies an economic system where the use of fossil fuels is drastically reduced from the present standards.

In the context of net-zero emissions, developed countries maintained their 2050 goal. On the other hand, some developing countries aimed for 2060 to achieve a similar goal, while India maintained that it will achieve net-zero emissions by 2070. Net-zero emission implies an economic system where the use of fossil fuels is drastically reduced from the present standards.

Emerging challenges and what lies ahead?

The major objective of COP-26 was to execute the rules and regulations set in the Paris Climate Agreement, 2015. Critics emphasize that this objective was not completed because of three reasons. First, the goal of collecting and channelizing 100 billion dollars as climate finance was not met.

This goal was supposed to be met by 2020 and now it has been postponed till 2025. The second is related to the carbon market under which countries with excessive pollution emissions were to be heavily fined. All meetings related to these matters did not end on a positive note. Third, the demand to completely stop the usage of fossil fuels was also not met. Earlier, its deadline was 2050, whereas now it has been postponed to 2070. Further, there is a possibility that these deadlines would extend even more in the future.

New efforts and expectations

The implementation of the Glasgow Conference’s agenda and its success can be determined only in the future, but few countries have given a new sense of direction when it comes to addressing the issues of climate change. Almost 45 countries have come together to address the concerns around farming and its related livelihood issues.

These countries have also decided to use the ‘Clean and Green’ techniques in agriculture. COP26 was significant for most of underdeveloped countries to register their voice. There is a long list of underdeveloped countries and the communities in such countries are likely to be the most affected by exacerbating climate change. In this context, the plan to initiate ‘The climate Change Disaster fund’ was discussed and the goal is to provide technical and financial solutions to combat natural disasters in such communities.

Uttar Pradesh Climate Change Conference – 2021

The Department of Forest, Environment and Climate Change, Uttar Pradesh organized a two-day conclave on the issue of climate change in Lucknow. Many non-government organizations working on environmental issues were also present.

The conclave was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and attended by various experts and officials. Shri Adityanath stressed the importance of transitioning to clean and renewable energy sources, afforestation and the significance of Uttar Pradesh in tackling climate change.

The HCL Foundation showcased its achievements and ongoing projects through a stall. Its flagship program ‘HCL Harit’ is dedicated to environmental issues. The HCL Harit initiative has taken forward novel initiatives such as the Miyawaki afforestation technique, water body conservation and rejuvenation and CO2 emission reduction targets.

Apart from this, Harit also works towards the improvement of coastal and marine habitats and fishing communities for a better ecosystem. HCL Harit is also working with students and communities on sensitizing activities through its environmental education program. The visitors acknowledged and appreciated these efforts.

Overpopulation is a problem leading to the climate crisis?

Recently, Prince William of the UK blamed growth in the human population for declining wildlife in Africa. The ‘overpopulation’ argument is often heard on T.V. shows and various personalities are known to have endorsed this. However ‘overpopulation’ is not scientifically responsible for climate change or even a decline in biodiversity. Such arguments that blame certain populations for our environmental problems are called ‘eco-fascist’.

Population growth can indeed affect natural resources unevenly, but the reasons for the loss in biodiversity are rather economic. Let’s face some economic facts now, the global population rise is 1% per year whereas consumption rises at 3%. High consumption, a prime factor for the climate crisis, is more prominent in rich & developed countries with lower populations. A study conducted by Oxfam in 2020 demonstrated that individual carbon emissions in the U.K. are as high as 8.3 tonnes per year, as compared to only 1.68 tonnes in India. The global per capita carbon emission average is 4.7 tonnes per year. This implies that there is no correlation between population growth and carbon emissions or even in the loss of biodiversity, as rich countries with lower populations tend to have contributed more to carbon emissions.

Irreversible Harm Of Global Warming: IPCC Report

According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, climate change’s current speed and the problems caused by it can become irreversible if immediate action is not taken by world authorities.

The report emphasises that 40% of the world population, that is 3.6 billion people, are highly vulnerable to climate change. They are living in a constant threat of harsh climatic conditions and potential natural disasters. UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres termed it as “an atlas of human suffering”.

Rachel Warren, a lead author who worked on the report, said, “what has come out is a really strong message. At global warming of 2°C, the risks are several times greater than at 1.5°C. Many things become much more difficult to manage at 2°C than 1.5°.” If we somehow manage to cut the speed of global warming, farsighted losses can be far less. “Delay is death”, she said.

With the oaths, commitment and promises made at COP-26 last November, we haven’t managed to cut down the speed of climate change and we have a very short window to undo the activities that are constantly degrading the earth.

Rise in Wet-bulb temperature will make the environment dangerous to inhabit

In the second part of the recently published IPCC sixth assessment report, regional analysis of cities and countries is reported for the first time. According to the report, India falls in the category of countries where people will be strongly affected by the increasing sea level.

The report alerts that by the year 2050, about 35 million people in India may face annual or constant floods. This figure can go up to 45 to 50 million by the end of this century. “Globally, heat and humidity will create conditions beyond human tolerance if emissions are not rapidly eliminated; India is among the places that will experience these intolerable conditions,” the report says

The report focuses on the wet-bulb temperature, a measure of the mixture of humidity and heat. If the wet-bulb temperature goes beyond 31°C, the environment becomes very dangerous to inhabit for animals and humans. On the other hand, being in a wet-bulb temperature of 35°C or more for 6 hours is entirely unsurvivable for human beings.

According to the IPCC report, wet-bulb temperature is mostly around 25 to 30°C and hardly crosses 31°C. In case current carbon emissions are not reduced, northern and coastal India may face wet-bulb temperatures that are inhabitable to humans at the end of this century.

The report also said Patna and Luck now are among the places that are likely to reach the extreme wet-bulb temperature of 35°C if emissions are not reduced. Mumbai, Chennai, Indore and Bhubaneshwar are the cities at risk of reaching the wet-bulb temperature of 32 to 34°C if emissions remain constant in these locations.

Anxious or stressed? Climate Change could be the reason!

Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability Report by IPCC emphasised how extreme climate conditions can cause mental health problems.

“The pathways through which climatic events affect mental health are varied, complex and interconnected with other non-climatic influences that create vulnerability,” the report mentioned. The report also details direct or indirect exposure to harsh climate or extreme weather periods with a long continuity that can cause mental health issues.