How can India Reduce its Impact on Global Warming

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    • Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has pointed out that since the industrial revolution, human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2).

    About

    • Alarming Increase in Carbon Dioxide:
      • Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased by over 40%, from 280 ppm in the 18th century to 414 ppm in 2020, and greenhouse gases level by over these 200 years. 
      • Reason: Due to fuel burning and other ‘greenhouse gases’ such as methane, nitrous oxide, and compounds of sulphur, phosphorous, ozone into the atmosphere, changing the earth’s climate.
    • India Specific Observations: 
      • Rise in Greenhouse gases: The industrial revolution started only after India’s Independence 75 years ago which has led to a rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases.
      • Need to Reduce Carbon Footprint in Farming Sector: India has a total food-grain production of 275 million tonnes. India is the second largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, cotton and groundnuts. It, thus, becomes important that India try and reduce its carbon footprint as much as possible, more in its farming sector. 

    Innovative Initiatives in Agriculture to Reduce Global Warming 

    • Farmers are using solar panels in their fields, so that they can avoid diesel for groundwater pumps.
    • Climate-friendly agriculture offers new income sources and is more sustainable and India’s carbon emissions could drop by 45-62 million tonnes annually. 
    • India has about 20-39% vegetarians and 70% of the population eat meat — mainly chicken, mutton and fish. India, with its many rivers, has a vast coastline which is rich in fishes and fishes have high nutritional value and help in reducing carbon footprint

    India’s Efforts 

    • Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs):
      • India now stands committed to reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 45 percent by 2030 from its 2005 levels, as per the updated NDC. 
      • The country will also target about 50 percent of cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.
      • To create an additional (cumulative) carbon sink of 2.5-3 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) by 2030 through additional forest and tree cover.
      • To further a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, ‘LIFE’ ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ as a key to combating climate change” has been added to India’s NDC.
      • The update is also a step towards achieving India’s long term goal of reaching net-zero by 2070.
    • Adaptation and Mitigation:
      • The Government has launched many schemes and programs to scale up India’s actions on both adaptation and mitigation. 
      • Appropriate measures are being taken under these schemes and programs across many sectors, including water, agriculture, forest, energy and enterprise, sustainable mobility and housing, waste management, circular economy and resource efficiency, etc. 
      • As a result of the aforesaid measures, India has progressively continued decoupling of economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions. 
    • Focus on Renewable Energy:
      • The PM has set the targets and reiterated that the Indian government is committed to increasing the share of renewable energy in India’s total energy share. Initially, the target for renewable energy was set at 175 GW, but now it has been further revised to 450 GW by 2030.
      • It will lead to an overall increase in green jobs such as in renewable energy, clean energy industries- in automotives, manufacturing of low emissions products like Electric Vehicles and super-efficient appliances, and innovative technologies such as green hydrogen, etc. 
    • Mobilisation of Resources: 
      • India is earmarking a large part of its developmental resources to the fight against climate change. 
      • This is a stupendous effort as compared to the western countries, which are already at the advanced stages of development. 
    • International Solar Alliance (ISA): 
      • ISA is a global alliance being initiated by India as well as headquartered in India. 
      • It is aimed at promoting research to develop more efficient, low-cost solutions to the global energy requirements, by leveraging advanced technology as well as providing incentives and regulation of solar power. 
      • Currently, it has 88 members. 

    Challenges

    • Reducing India’s Coal Dependency:
      • According to one estimate, 68% of India’s greenhouse gas emissions come from energy production, which remains largely reliant on coal power plants. 
      • Given coal’s centrality to the country’s power, it will be difficult to completely displace it with renewable energy.
    • Climate-insensitive Agriculture Policy:
      • A significant chunk of India’s fiscal resources are directed towards the minimum support price combined with helpful electricity and fertilizer subsidies, encouraging farmers to grow water-intensive crops. 
      • Taken together, India’s agricultural policies aggravate water shortages, encourage crop burning and do little for climate change mitigation.
    • Impact on Urban Livelihood:
      • Climate change is already impacting health, livelihood and infrastructure in India’s urban areas.
      • The impact will be felt more by economically and socially marginalized urban residents, who live in informal settlements.
    • Balancing Growth and Environment:
      • Ultimately, tackling climate change is a balancing act between the present and the future. 
      • Like governments everywhere, the Indian government will have to strike a balance on inter-generational equity.

    Way Ahead

    • Shift to green economy: India needs to ensure policies and investments shift from the grey to green economy, giving up fossil fuel and making societies and people more resilient to climate shocks.
    • Decarbonise emission-intensive sectors: More efforts are required to reduce emissions in heavy industries like iron and steel, chemicals and cement. An ‘ecosystem-based’ approach, which looks at greening both ‘supply’ and ‘demand’, is the way ahead. 
    • Climate-smart agriculture: Considering the rapid population growth and globalization, there is an urgent need to identify and promote sustainable farming practices and tools, using inputs more efficiently and effectively to grow more from less.
    • More Carbon Sinks: India’s efforts to reduce emissions must be complemented with creation of more carbon sinks, areas that store carbon, like forests, oceans and wetlands. This is where the role of local communities is vital.
    • Role of the indigenous community: Indigenous communities could play a strategic role in mitigating climate change. It is high time to acknowledge their traditional wisdom on climate variability and deep-knowledge of environmental cycles, which could substantially enrich modern scientific knowledge and reinforce the effectiveness of adaptation activities worldwide. 
    • Importance of Private Sector: Businesses bring investments, innovation and the ability to transform challenges into opportunities — all essential weapons in our fight against climate change. Companies need to come forward and deliver on their responsibility towards the people and the planet.

    Source: TH