From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 3- Need to galvanise climate action
Two recent events: floods in Uttarakhand and Texas cold snap serves as reminders of the devastation climate change could unleash. What we need is climate action. The article deals with this issue.
Fingerprints of global warming in Uttarakhand floods and Texas cold snap
- The melting of the Himalayan glaciers that prompted the floods and landslides in Uttarakhand have the fingerprints of global warming.
- The United States has already witnessed many deadly avalanches since the beginning of 2021.
- Furthermore, as glacier cover is replaced by water or land, the amount of light reflected decreases, aggravating warming.
- The extreme cold weather in Texas, like the double-digit negative temperatures seen in Germany earlier this year, is connected to Arctic-peninsula warming, at a rate almost twice the global average.
Global warming causing the movement of cold air
- Usually, there is a collection of winds around the Arctic keeping the cold locked far to the north.
- But global warming has caused gaps in these protective winds, allowing intensely cold air to move south — a phenomenon that is accelerating.
India needs to announce carbon neutrality target
- When the public connects cause and effect, responses are usually swift.
- Global warming is still seen as a danger that lies over the horizon.
- For India, the third-largest carbon emitter after China and the United States, a decisive switch is needed from highly polluting coal and petroleum to cleaner and renewable power sources.
- China has announced carbon neutrality by 2060, Japan and South Korea by 2050, but India is yet to announce a target.
- HSBC ranks India at the top among 67 nations in climate vulnerability (2018), Germanwatch ranks India fifth among 181 nations in terms of climate risks (2020).
- But public spending does not reflect these perils.
Including policies for climate mitigation in the Budget
- A vital step should be explicitly including policies for climate mitigation in the government budget.
- Growth targets should include timelines for switching to cleaner energy.
- The government needs to launch a major campaign to mobilise climate finance.
- India’s Central and State governments must increase allocations for risk reduction, such as better defences against floods, or agricultural innovations to withstand droughts.
Neglect of warnings and lack of policy response
- The Uttarakhand government and the Centre have been diluting, instead of strengthening, climate safeguards for hydroelectric and road projects.
- Studies had flagged ice loss across the Himalayas, and the dangers to densely populated catchments, but policy response has been lacking.
- Similarly, Kerala ignored a landmark study calling for regulation of mining, quarrying and dam construction in ecologically sensitive places, which contributed to the massive floods and landslides in 2018 and 2019.
Consider the question ” Frequent occurrences of the extreme weather events serve as the warning for more climate actions, yet there is a lack of policy actions. In light of this, suggest the measures India should take.”
Events like Uttarakhand and Texas should be treated as lessons to change people’s minds and for the public to demand urgent action.