Global Warning! It is real!!

Global Warning! It is real!!

Global Warning! It is real!!

By Rahul Bhandari, IAS

Global warming or climate change has become a vastly debated issue in the world, raising a lot of concern. It emerged as a major environmental problem with other multi-faceted universalities coming into play from the global to local levels. All agencies are now part of the problem which are seeking the answer to such a dynamic catastrophe.

From, rise in sea levels, to ocean acidification, forest degradation, loss of biodiversity and desertification are recent occurrences that show the maximum impact of climate change on the world today.

The term Climate Change is used interchangeably with Global Warming and Greenhouse Effect, though Climate             Change is the outcome of the two. The fifth assessment report of IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change) has outlined the causes, impacts and measures to combat climate change. Warming is unequivocal and it is more than 95 percent likely that human activities are responsible for climate change due to excessive use of fossil fuels and deforestation. The adverse impacts of climate change are already being seen in the form of extreme weather events like frequent floods, draught, decrease in food grain production, increased acidification of oceans, etc. The period between 1980 to 2012 has been the warmest period for the past 1,400 years and is associated with increased Carbon Dioxide concentration. Concentration of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere surged at a record braking speed in 2016 to the highest level in 8 lakh years (Greenhouse gas Bulletin Report, 2017).

There has been much talk since the 1992 Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro to address climate change, followed by annual climate change conferences, involving the highest decision making body- Conference of Parties. However, it was during COP 3 (Kyoto Climate Conference) that a consensus could be achieved.

The 2015 Paris Climate Conference proved to be a remarkable event with a broad based consensus of developed and developing countries. It was agreed to keep global temperature rise below two degree Celsius, and to pursue to limit it to 1.5 degree Celsius. It was decided to limit the amount of GHG (Greenhouse Gases) emitted by human activities, such that the trees, soil and ocean can absorb it by the year 2050, which means to peak GHG emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between source and sink of GHG by 2050.

India is regarded as one of the principle victims of climate change, being a tropical country, leading to extreme weather events. India is already spending 2-2.5 percent of GDP annually on adaptation to the adverse impact of climate change. As per the INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) submitted by India, for each unit growth in GDP, India will decrease its carbon emissions by 33.5 percent. International Solar Alliance, National Energy Policy, National Action Plan on Climate Change, are some of the positive steps taken by India to combat climate change.

Indonesia could be the first country to move its capital because of rising sea levels that threaten to submerge its current capital Jakarta, and the other island nations are already worried.

We must recognize climate change as a global collective action problem. Mitigation and adaptation are the complementary strategies for reducing and managing the risks of climate change. Mitigation refers to the steps taken to reduce greenhouse gas emission by promoting renewable energy like solar energy. It also includes increasing the carbon sink by increasing the forest cover. Adaptation involves measures taken to reduce the intensity of the adverse impact of climate change. For example, adaptation in agriculture means, promoting climate resilient crops which are thermal resistant, drought and salinity resistant, etc. Adaptation should be integrated into planning, policy design and decision making to promote synergies with development and disaster risk reduction.

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