The issue of Climate Change has grabbed the attention of the world as never before. Every international dialogue, whether bilateral or of comity of nations, find the Climate Agenda topmost on its list.
Think Globally. Act Locally!
The environment or climate change issue has become the ‘defining challenge of our age’. Hence, India has been an active participant in international negotiations and corresponding actions in terms of enacting legislation and adopting policies and strategies.
The world’s nations met at Rio de Janerio in 1992 and agreed to avoid ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system‘. We have since then come a long way to address the issue and find solutions. The latest is the Paris Agreement, where every signatory nation publicly outlined post-2020 climate actions they intended to take, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).
The INDCs largely are a concerted effort of the world community, which aims to:
- Hold the increase in the global average temperature well below 2°C
- Pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C
- Achieve net zero emissions in the second half of this century
Involvement of all
As countries formally make commitments, these now become each country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). India’s NDCs are ambitious and will require the involvement of governments at all levels, and most importantly the people. It is now more than established and proven that Climate Change is fueled by anthropogenic activities – individuals, businesses, cities, and nations around the world. The findings of the International organizations have to be supplemented by grassroots actions – ‘Think Globally, Act Locally’.
Alarming climate disasters
Human Activities are contributing to more than 32 billion tons of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is responsible for several alarming Climate Disasters around the globe. Data shows that the Co2 concentrations have risen from 280 ppm (parts per million) during the pre-industrial period in the 1750s to 384 ppm in 2007. Increase in Co2 has now gone beyond 400 ppm, which is alarming of climate change.
The major hazards
Energy supply or electricity is the highest contributor amounting to 26% of the total emissions, as a result of the burning of fossil fuel. Industry accounts for 19% of global emissions, Deforestation 17% and Agriculture 14% of the global GHG (Green House Gases). The Transport Sector is responsible for 13% of the global emissions and the remainder comes from residential and commercial sectors including waste and wastewaters.
We have to Act NOW
Is the clear mandate! There are unprecedented climate disasters like extreme heat waves, torrential rains, storms, dry spells and extensive drought, sea level rise, rapid melting of glaciers, and a threat to water, crops, and health due to increase in vector diseases. The Earth’s climate change is so dramatically that it is transforming land and sea, affecting all forms of life. Many Climate disasters have defied predictions of experts and scientists, and have happened earlier than predicted.
Fix the problem
Experts predict that by the end of the 21st Century the world will lose a dramatic number of species – if that rings a bell – human beings also are a species. We need to fix this before it gets out of our hands. The problem can be fixed, or at least slowed if every individual contributes to bringing down his/ her Carbon footprint at home, at workplace and lobby by joining like-minded persons or organizations, to make sure that the governments at all levels put their act together. We will have to contribute our time to ensure a healthy future for our future generations.
We must make conscious efforts to change mindsets and lifestyles and ourselves, and take concrete actions to exhibit the will and ingenuity in saving our planet. The change will happen only if we get upset and restless about the way we are treating our natural and man-made assets.
For those who have this feeling and already do their bit – Kudos!
For those who have been pushing it for a better day – today needs to be a turning point! Be a ‘Climate Ambassador’!
Everything noted below may not be possible for each one. Surely, you will find at least 5 things which you can set for-
Conservation of electricity–
- Use of energy efficient appliances
- Changeover from conventional bulbs to CFL or LEDs
- Turning OFF idle plugged in electronic equipment
- Putting OFF the lights/ fans/ TVs/ computers etc when not in use
- Disconnecting the mobile once it has been charged
- Geysers are guzzlers of electricity – invest in a solar heater
- Investing in renewable energy for all energy requirement could be the ultimate solution for a carbon neutral lifestyle
2. Transport –
- Travelling less– working from home when possible or making use of technology, eg Skype, FaceTime etc. (Many MNCs have cut on air travel of their employees, several others have floated the concept of work from home.)
- Use of Public Transport whenever possible. Walk/ cycle short distances, carpool to the office. (This is already seen as an increasing trend in metropolitan cities.)
3. NASA satellite data showed a global forest loss of 888,000 square miles from 2000 to 2012. Forests are natural sinks for absorption of Co2. Grow more trees.
4. Dumping of garbage at landfills emits Methane gas – which is more hazardous than the Co2. We need to:
- Segregate our garbage into Wet and Dry– and further, if possible, into paper, plastic, glass, and electronics, etc.
- Recycle the Dry and Compost the Wet, or collectively invest in a Bio-methanation plant.
5. Other aspects which can be adopted with a little initiative —
- Rainwater harvesting
- Frugal use of water
- Using recycled water for gardening
- Construction of ‘Green buildings’ for new constructions or retrofitting green measure
The list to take small initiatives at the personal level and at a workplace is endless. The challenge we face is daunting. India is one of the most vulnerable hotspots for impacts of climate change and we are already experiencing it. As the Earth’s custodians, I am sure we will step in fast to manage our changed reality.
In 2009, MIT’s Sloan Management Review first surveyed businesses about their sustainability efforts. It found most ‘doing only what is necessary to meet regulatory requirements’. Five years later the survey showed a different picture- nearly two-thirds said that sustainability was at the top of their agenda. The scenario is not very different in India. Today almost all businesses recognize that climate change is a problem. They use the environmental strategy to build a competitive advantage or to bring better rating to their brand.
There are several celebrities, Hollywood actors and pop stars, who promote green lifestyles and causes and actually walk the talk. Some have themselves started organizations, or support the efforts of other groups. Some champion green lifestyles – by driving hybrid cars, living in green homes or changing their dietary habits. A few even take bold stands as activists, putting themselves on the line to protect the environment by participating in demonstrations.
Actors support the cause
Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt are some on the forefront. The Nobel Peace Prize Former was conferred on Vice President of the US, Al Gore for his tireless contribution in creating awareness on Climate Change. It was a matter of great pride that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was chaired by Dr. Pachauri from 2002 until his resignation in 2015. In the interim, the organization was awarded the prestigious Noble Peace Prize.
Every citizen who makes a resolve to contribute in whatever way he/ she can is the Hero of our times, as his small action is going to make a big difference. Become a hero and motivate others to be one.
‘IF NOT NOW – WHEN? IF NOT YOU– THEN WHO?