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Climate Controversies

Climate Controversies

The withdrawal of US from Paris agreement is a setback to the effective climate action. Being the largest historical emitter and the second largest current emitter of Green House Gases (GHG), the US has a major role to play in reducing the carbon emission. This withdrawal will also affect their financial and technological support to the developing nations in climate adaptation and mitigation measures. World is getting warmer and climate change is a reality. Climate change is affecting our nations. We are already bearing the brunt of its consequences and this happens when the world is facing multiple climate irregularities, which is manifested in the increased incidences of extreme weather conditions leading to disasters, water stress, variation in food production etc. The glaciers are melting causing severe flashfloods and landslides which in turn cause disasters and widespread destructions every year. Melting of the glaciers and high level of soil erosion has also resulted in the sea erosion and submergence of the coastlines. Extreme weather conditions, high intensity rainfall, uneven rainfall, and untimely rainfall are more frequent. The incidences of heat related and cold related deaths are increasing. Water borne illnesses and diseases vectors are on the rise. The coping mechanism of the poor and marginalized people crumbles with the extreme change in the climate leading to the loss of their lives and livelihoods.

The challenge is to maintain the momentum of climate finance for climate change mitigation and adaptation, as US withdraws their financial pledge of US$3 billion for the Green Climate Fund (GCF).  Hence this withdrawal should help galvanize greater action and forming new alliances and partnership for systematic planning and implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. We must flight climate change to reduce carbon emission and to become carbon neutral. All countries, whether small or big must come together, work together and act together in reducing carbon emissions with the prime aim to protect our mother earth.

This partnership should promote clean energy transition, massive afforestation of multi species, soil and water conservation measures to mitigate droughts and floods, sustainable farming practices to ensure food production. Community involvement in performing these measures will bring greater ownership from their end. If we all go in for a little local action – changing the things we can change within our own immediate surroundings for the better – the effects can be surprising and if every local community were to do the same, they could be truly staggering. Preventing climate change can begin at home! The oxygen belts of multi species plants needs to be promoted on the sides of the river (especially mangrove afforestation), on the roadside and on the embankments of the ponds and lakes in addition to the plantation in open spaces and barren land. Need to have innovations and new initiatives in renewable energy sources such as solar energy and wind energy. Presence of a pond for water storage and a sacred grove as a unit of local biodiversity were common in antient times. Join the carbon fast of reducing our carbon footprints. It is the high time for us to promote soil and water conservation measures like making trenches, bunds, earthen dams. Natural farming practices can also reduce the emission of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere. The forms of nitrogen provided by chemical fertilizers are readily transformed in the soil, resulting in the emission of nitrous oxides into the atmosphere. The scientific findings have confirmed that nitrous oxides are 300 times more damaging than CO2 in contributing to GHG emissions.

India stands firm in her decision :  The commitment of India to stick on to Paris agreement needs to be appreciated. India has announced various schemes and projects to shift from the traditional energy sources to renewable energy. At the time of Paris agreement our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi said that India needs to meet the expectations of 125 crore people including 30 crores who are yet to get electricity connections. The interest of India to produce 40% of its energy sources through renewable energy by 2030 and the plan to produce 100 Gigawatts solar energy by 2022 is our commitment to reduce carbon emission.  Massive afforestation drive, soil and water conservation measures, promotion of sustainable farming practices can definitely help our country to meet our targets.  Our Foreign Minister Ms. Sushma Swaraj on hearing the allegations of Mr. Trump that India signed Paris pact to get billions of dollars from the developed nations said “we are committed to the protection of our environment and this commitment is 5000 years old”.

Worshiping nature is Indian ethos and the conservation of natural resources and the protection of life supporting systems were deeply embedded in our culture and tradition. Considering the importance of natural resources for our survival on the earth, we used to have the practice of caring them. Our elders used to have a symbiotic relationship with nature and hence the nature used to protect them. However, the rate at which nature is being recklessly exploited and destroyed through unsustainable and lopsided policies and practices, should be sufficient to prompt us to undertake serious introspection and immediate action. Quite often, and unfortunately so, it is the poorest and the most vulnerable who bear the brunt of the degradations. It has become extremely important, to take on the challenge of restoring the vitality of mother earth, through extensive, realistic strategies.

(The writer is Team Leader of Climate Adaptive Agriculture & Livelihoods at Caritas India, New Delhi)

(Published on 03th July 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 27)