[Yojana May Summary] Sustainable Economic Growth – Explained, pointwise

For 7PM Editorial Archives click HERE
Introduction

Climate change has emerged as the major challenge on the developmental aspect. It negatively impacts every process of growth. As part of the efforts to achieve environmentally sustainable economic growth, the Governments must be committed to reducing the effects of climate changeCountries of South Asia are particularly vulnerable to changes in the climate. As per the Global Climate Risk Index’, published by a global environmental think-tank, India is amongst the top 10 most vulnerable countries to climate change. Therefore significant measures are required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent the planet from warming much more rapidly than the predicted level.

What is the status of Climate Change as per the recent IPCC report?

The report states that human activity is ‘unambiguously’ to blame for more severe climate events such as heatwaves, floods, and droughts. Further attaining net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is a must. Under all emission scenarios, the climate-critical 1.5°C temperature increase is likely to arrive a decade earlier than IPCC predicted three years ago. 

The report has also predicted that Southeast Asia is one of the planet’s most vulnerable regions to climate change. Sea levels are rising fast, and shorelines are retreating in coastal areas where 450 million people reside, even though Southeast Asia is expected to warm slightly less than the global average. 

Read More: The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (Part 2) – Explained, pointwise
What is the magnitude of vulnerability faced by India?

According to the Climate Vulnerability Index (CVO) – Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Bihar are highly vulnerable to extreme climate events such as floods, droughts, and cyclones. It also says that more than 80% of India’s population lives in districts highly vulnerable to extreme hydro-met disasters

ForumIAS is now in Hyderabad. Click here to know more
What are the threats posed by Climate Change?

Economic Loss: Rising seas are expected to cost Asia’s largest cities billions of dollars of damage this decade. Changing rainfall patterns combined with rising temperatures may cause soil moisture and water retention capacity to deteriorate, affecting home and industrial water supplies and reducing agriculture production. Climate Change is a direct challenge to sustainable economic growth.

Threatening Energy Generation: Higher temperatures and the risks posed by extreme weather events, such as increased sedimentation from flooding could harm hydropower generation. This necessitates measures to deal with rising peak electrical demands. 

Aggravate Vulnerability: Climate threats such as sea-level rise, rising temperatures, and extreme weather events will aggravate South Asian cities’ susceptibility. The megacities of Delhi, Dhaka, Kolkata, and Mumbai will be the most affected.

Climate Refugees: The wrath of climate change may induce many people to migrate from their native lands to new countries. Thereby enhancing conflicts and igniting a global refugee crisis. 

What are the challenges in tackling climate change?

Growing Demand of Heavy Industries: Heavy industries such as iron and steel, chemicals, and cement are among the highest emitters, and demand for their products is growing due to rapid urbanization and economic growth.  

No Dedicated Ministry/Department: In many countries there is no dedicated department or ministry to tackle climate change. For instance, there is no single ministry accountable for moving India towards net-zero emissions and holistically tackling climate change. Further, many South Asian governments lack carbon reduction policies that would effectively decrease the severity of climate hazards.

High Dependence on Fossil Fuels: Due to its strong reliance on coal, India has emerged as one of the top greenhouse gas emitters in absolute terms. Coal will continue to dominate power generation in India for the foreseeable future.

Financial Constraints: Many nations don’t have enough financial resources to do considerable investment in critical sectors such as urban infrastructure and prepare social safety nets for the most vulnerable populations.

What steps have been taken so far?
National 

NAPCCC: To counter the emerging threats from climate change, India released its National Action Plan to Combat Climate Change (NAPCC). It has 8 sub missions including National Solar Mission, National Water Mission etc..

India Cooling Action Plan: It provides an integrated approach towards cooling and related areas including reduction in the cooling demand. This would help reduce emissions thereby combating global warming.

Read More: India Cooling Action Plan

Steps taken to tackle Climate Change and Sustainable Economic Growth UPSC

Source: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy

Global

Paris Agreement: It seeks to keep the rise in global temperatures “well below” 2°C from pre-industrial times, while “pursuing efforts” to limit it to 1.5°C.

UN SDGs: These are 17 broad goals for achieving sustainable development in the society. Amongst them Goal 13 exclusively focuses on tackling climate change.

Glasgow Pact: It was adopted by 197 parties on 13 November 2021 during the COP26 negotiations. It has emphasized that stronger action in the current decade was most critical to achieving the 1.5-degree target. 

Over 400 financial institutions with a combined asset value of over USD 130 trillion (through the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero or GFANZ)’ have pledged to align their portfolios to net-zero by 2030.

What further steps can be taken for mitigating Climate Change?

First, emissions-intensive industries must be decarbonised. They should be incentivized to adopt cleaner technologies like electrostatic precipitators, Coal Gasification etc. to reduce emissions. This will be the most potent step in ensuring sustainable economic growth.

Second, there is a need for more ‘carbon sinks,’ or carbon-storing ecosystems like ecosystems such as forests, oceans, and wetlands. Local communities, many of which live in harmony with the environment and rely on natural resources for livelihood, will play a critical part in this.

Third, the countries should focus on new areas like sustainable fintech solutions. The merging of three areas— climate, finance, and technology, is known as sustainable fintechThese are digital  innovations, applications, and platforms that assist organizations and individuals in saving, spending, and investing in environmentally friendly ways. They also provide firms with greater tools for monitoring, measuring, and mitigating their environmental impact.

Fourth, to lower the carbon intensity of the electricity sector, energy efficiency must be combined with technical improvements. Parallel to this, renewable energy production and regional energy trading must be augmented.

Fifth, developed countries must reclaim trust by delivering the $100 billion promised since 2009 and committing to increasing climate finance over the next decade. They must substantially reduce their emissions to allow rising emissions by developing countries in the future years.

Per Capita Emissions by Country Sustainable Economic Growth UPSC

Source: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy

What should be the action plan for India?

First, the action plan of India should involve more investments to raise the share of renewable energy in power generation. Further, there should be electrification of fossil-fuel-dependent businesses, commercial production of green hydrogen, and promotion of electric vehicles.

Second, the country has to use biofuels and do carbon sequestration, deploy lower carbon energy, and make itself more sustainable in its energy production process. This strategy would not only open up enormous employment opportunities but also make the country leap forward on a sustainable development path

Third, a district-by-district climate action plan is essential because most Indian districts are vulnerable to extreme weather occurrences. Further,  according to the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) report, only 63% of Indian districts have a District Disaster Management Plan.

Fourth, India must collaborate with other countries to establish a Global Resilience Reserve Fund, which could function as a form of climate insurance.

Conclusion

There is a need to re-orient short, medium, and long-term environmental targets in order to duly tackle climate change and achieve sustainable economic growth. In case of India, the Ministries of New and Renewable energy (MNRE), Environment. Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), and the Ministry of Heavy Industries will be the nation’s driving engine to ensure an uninterrupted growth trajectory.

Source: Yojana May 2022

Print Friendly and PDF