With India irrevocably committed to the historic Paris agreement on climate change, complying with the rather tough provisions of the agreement is going to be an uphill task for India. However India is determined to follow it in letter and spirit if the assertions by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the conclave and later are any indication.
Modi has repeatedly said that the country needs to address climate change, not because of pressure from Western countries but because of the potential damage it can cause to India. In fact the stakes could hardly be higher for the world than for India and for the US. Rising and warming seas, changes in the quality and availability of water, decreases in food production, unbearable heat, and more highly destructive weather events will affect most nations.
However, no other major country is likely to suffer more than India. India is already enduring summers that melt roads and kill people. Some 60 percent of its population makes its living from agriculture, which will be particularly affected. Most farmers will be hit by drought while some will be flooded. A large portion of the Indian population lives in coastal areas and low-lying islands. These areas will be subject to more and deeper flooding and consequent population displacement.
Northern India is dependent in large part on runoff from glaciers that are shrinking in the face of climate change. Already, rampant disease vectors are increasing in scope and deadliness. For India, climate change is a slow-moving disaster.
The United States will also suffer from climate change, but, being the richest nation on earth, it will have the means to protect its population to a far greater extent than does India. Since the United States highly values its relationship with India, there are other national interests that will be affected by the impact of what India and the United States do together on climate change.
It is welcome that India has set an ambitious goal of receiving 40% of its power from renewable resources by 2030 and of late a solar power alliance aimed at growing solar power production in the developing world. The country also recently set a target to develop 100 GW of solar power capacity by 2022, a huge ramp up from current capacity.
The Paris conclave on climate change is historic in the sense that it a landmark agreement on December 12 in Paris, charting a fundamentally new course in the two-decade-old global climate effort. The agreement reaffirms the goal of keeping average warming below 2 degrees Celsius, while also urging parties to “pursue efforts” to limit it to 1.5 degrees, a top priority for developing countries highly vulnerable to climate impacts.
Safety Messenger in this issue has dealt the issue of global warming and the resultant impact of climate change on environment with added prominence through a host of articles and features. Hope these will be food for thought for our readers.