Work towards a robust climate action now
The article is authored bytAvinash Mishra is adviser and Madhubanti Dutta is Young Professional, NITI Aayog.
We are in the middle of a global climate emergency that affects every aspect of our lives and civilisation. The time is ticking away, and this could be our only chance to keep global temperatures under control and prevent global warming and the consequences of climate-change-related disasters. To make progress, COP26’s outcomes should be followed by more robust plans and resolutions. It’s high time to make a pathway towards mitigation and adaptation strategies, and make sure that every nation commits to a greener future.
As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise despite widely promised climate action by the world’s biggest carbon polluters (developed countries), a global warming increase of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, a target set by world leaders when the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, could be reached by 2030, possibly sooner. The climate-critical 1.5°C temperature increase is expected to arrive a decade earlier than the IPCC anticipated three years ago under all emission scenarios. Southeast Asia is also expected to be one of the world’s most sensitive regions to climate change.
Despite the fact that Southeast Asia is anticipated to warm slightly less than the world average, sea levels are rising faster than elsewhere, and shorelines are retreating in coastal areas where 450 million people live. Rising oceans are predicted to cause damage of billions of dollars to Asia’s greatest cities this decade, according to a new study, with the impact amplified by tectonic movements and the implications of groundwater removal. Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is clearly a big challenge that can only be accomplished if urgent global action is made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also conserving and restoring ecosystems.
In this context, energy efficiency must be combined with technological advances to reduce the electricity sector’s carbon intensity. Simultaneously, renewable energy generation and regional energy trading must be bolstered while environmental stresses are considered. Rising peak electrical needs are necessitated by rising temperatures and the threats posed by extreme weather events, such as increased sedimentation from flooding, which could affect hydropower. A more robust energy industry is required for long-term economic growth. In order to update transmission and distribution infrastructure and encourage clean technology and renewable energy development, India should collaborate with industry groups, domestic banks, specialised energy efficiency agencies, and service firms. This will lead to a roadmap, where energy will be comprehended as an opportunity.
India would require green funding for adaptation-based climate action as the cost of the climate catastrophe rises exponentially. At COP26, developed countries must recover trust by delivering the USD 100 billion committed since 2009 and pledging to increase climate money over the next decade. India must also work with other countries to create a Global Resilience Reserve Fund, which may act as a sort of climate insurance.
Through the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), over 400 financial institutions with a combined asset value of over $130 trillion have agreed to align their portfolios to net-zero by 2030. This new coalition illustrates that banks, asset managers, and asset owners see both the business rationale for climate change and the significant risks of participating in the previous high-carbon, polluting economy. We need to pave the way for more competitive and livable communities with smaller carbon footprints. Greenspace, energy-efficient structures, and water supplies, as well as trash and urban transportation emissions reductions, are all important goals. The Sustainable Transport Initiative promotes governments to invest in low-carbon, safe, and cost-effective public transportation networks, as well as aiding countries in building inclusive, clean, and energy-efficient transportation projects and laws. Climate change has a huge impact on the region's water supplies, as we have observed in our efforts to promote Climate-Resilient Development. In 2022-23, sovereign Green Bonds will be issued as part of the government's broader market borrowings to fund green projects. The proceeds will be used to fund public-sector programmes that reduce the economy's carbon intensity.
Climate change, in combination with biodiversity loss, has posed one of humanity's most difficult existential problems. Transitioning to renewable energy will cut GHG emissions as well as the amount of water used to cool thermal power facilities. Both urban heating and air pollution can be reduced with green building infrastructure. Increased rainfall, combined with water collection practices, would aid in the restoration of groundwater levels. Groundwater restoration would not only increase water security and drought resilience, but it would also assist to control land subsidence, minimising the effects of rising sea levels and other natural disasters. Improving early warning systems and forecasts would aid in addressing climate change's new challenges.
Furthermore, education and awareness programmes, stepping up climate research, setting up observational stations to improve data collection, collaborative knowledge generation, and sharing within and across countries would augment the mitigation process.
(The article is authored bytAvinash Mishra is adviser and Madhubanti Dutta is Young Professional, NITI Aayog )