Our time begins now

Our time begins now


  1. The article discusses about India’s vulnerability to climate change and a road map to transit quickly to a near-zero carbon economy.

Important Facts:

2. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), recently released a report in Seoul  highlighting the impacts that developing countries like India would face if global warming touches 2°C as compared to 1.5°C.

3. The report also highlighted the following warnings to India:

  • Higher risks from heavy precipitation events, including flooding and tropical cyclones.
  • Increased number of hot days and Coastal flooding.
  • Denting India’s GDP by 2.8% and depress the living standards of nearly half the population by 2050.
  • The people living in the severe “hotspot” districts of central India, particularly Vidarbha, are staring at the prospect of an over 10% dip in economic consumption.
  • Decreased food availability as a result of projected dip in crop production.
  • Increased risk of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue.

4. Socio-economic challenges for India:

  • India has two complex and inter-related problems of bringing a vast population out of poverty into decent lives and dealing responsibly with the global carbon challenge and building resilience to climate change.
  • The 1.5° C report calls for societal transformation on a global scale that “reflect the links, synergies and trade-offs between mitigation, adaptation and sustainable development.”
  • Recent events, however, show that India cannot trade off forests, urban water bodies, riverine ecosystems, waste management or groundwater as these come back to bite us as floods, landslides, droughts and infectious disease.

5. Comparison with China: While India is often compared with China in climate-related discussions as a large emerging economy, the two are very different as follows:

  • India ranks 130 among nations in the Human Development Index, and China ranks 86.
  • India still has 364 million living in multidimensional poverty.
  • Nearly a third (27.5%) are multidimensionally poor and about a fifth (19.1%) are vulnerable to becoming poor.
  • Almost half the country is therefore at high risk from events such as loss of a job or ill health of a family member.
  • Combined with damage from a severe cyclone, flood or drought, each subsequent shock has a multiplier effect on hundreds of millions, potentially pushing them deeper into poverty.

6. India’s Successful examples of innovation for climate resilience:

  • The Bureau of Energy Efficiency through appliance labelling and large-scale procurement of efficient devices have helped in reducing the emissions and warming.
  • In the building and cement industry, innovation around housing and new materials, including natural fibre composites, could make far-reaching changes in infrastructure through low-carbon modular technologies.
  • India expects to reach its ambitious solar target of 100 GW capacity by 2022 primarily through large centralised solar power plants.
  • The renewable-based microgrids can become an important feature of electricity policy.
  • For example, Jharkhand, which has 249 remote villages powered by solar microgrids, is now considering their use even in villages that are already grid connected.
  • Sustainable approaches to land are evident in cases such as forest conservation in Mendha-Lekha village in Maharashtra and community delivery of public services in
  • Andhra Pradesh is attempting for Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), to all its farmers by 2024 with an expected savings of 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. This is with 6 million farmers across 8 million hectares.

7. Challenges:

  • In transport and urbanisation, the challenge is to create isotropic communities in peri-urban and hinterland areas which have to be designed not around cars but walking, cycling and sustainable neighbourhood vehicles.
  • Work and industry would also have to focus on the small and medium scale employees and modest capital investments, which reduce the risk of speculation and jobless growth.

8. Way Forward:

  • Large investments are needed to make the transitions in each sector that would take the country to a near zero-carbon economy.
  • A ‘luxury’ carbon tax that curbs non-essential consumption could be employed for funding large investments in green technology.
  • The entrepreneurs can build decentralised, neighbourhood-scale micro-utilities, managed by locally owned enterprises and cooperatives.
  • With modern power electronics and innovations in hybrid waste to energy, water recycling and community gardens could be integrated as standalone modules that are connected to larger grids.
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