Climate emergency:Renewables revolution

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    In Context 

    As the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ripples across the globe, the response of some nations to the growing energy crisis has been to double down on fossil fuels, pouring billions more dollars into the coal, oil and gas that are deepening the climate emergency.

    Climate change

    • It refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns
      • These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle. 
      • Since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.
    • Burning fossil fuels generates greenhouse gas emissions that act like a blanket wrapped around the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures.
      • Examples of greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change include carbon dioxide and methane.
    • Fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – are by far the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions.

    Causes of Climate crisis 

    • Generating power
      • Generating electricity and heat by burning fossil fuels causes a large chunk of global emissions. 
      • Most electricity is still generated by burning coal, oil, or gas, which produces carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide – powerful greenhouse gases that blanket the Earth and trap the sun’s heat. 
    • Manufacturing goods
      • Manufacturing and industry produce emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels to produce energy for making things like cement, iron, steel, electronics, plastics, clothes, and other goods. 
      • Mining and other industrial processes also release gases, as does the construction industry. 
        • The manufacturing industry is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
    • Cutting down forests
      • Cutting down forests to create farms or pastures, or for other reasons, causes emissions, since trees, when they are cut, release the carbon they have been storing. 
      • Deforestation, together with agriculture and other land use changes, is responsible for roughly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Using transportation
      • Most cars, trucks, ships, and planes run on fossil fuels. That makes transportation a major contributor of greenhouse gases, especially carbon-dioxide emissions. 
    • Producing food
      • Producing food causes emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases in various ways, including through deforestation and clearing of land for agriculture and grazing, digestion by cows and sheep, the production and use of fertilisers and manure for growing crops, and the use of energy to run farm equipment or fishing boats, usually with fossil fuels. 
        • All this makes food production a major contributor to climate change. And greenhouse gas emissions also come from packaging and distributing food.
    • Powering buildings
      • Globally, residential and commercial buildings consume over half of all electricity. As they continue to draw on coal, oil, and natural gas for heating and cooling, they emit significant quantities of greenhouse gas emissions. 

    Impacts 

    • All climate indicators continue to break records, forecasting a future of ferocious storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and unlivable temperatures in vast swathes of the planet.
      • Warmer temperatures over time are changing weather patterns and disrupting the usual balance of nature. 
      • This poses many risks to human beings and all other forms of life on Earth.
    • Climate extremes, such as droughts, floods and extreme temperatures, can lead to crop losses and threaten the livelihoods of agricultural producers and the food security of communities worldwide.

    Global Efforts to Tackle Climate Change

    • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was created in 1992 as the main forum for international action on climate change. 195 countries have joined the international agreement (known as a convention).It holds negotiations focus on four key areas:
      • Mitigating (reducing) greenhouse gas emissions.
      • Adapting to climate change.
      • Reporting of national emissions.
      • Financing of climate action in developing countries.
    • The Paris Agreement is a landmark agreement as it brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, for the first time.
      • It was adopted by 196 parties at Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in Paris, in December 2015 and entered into force in November 2016.
    • The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
      • It is intrinsically linked to all 16 of the other Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
    • Global Coral Reef Research and Development Accelerator Platform to accelerate scientific knowledge and technology development in support of coral reef survival, conservation, resilience, adaptation and restoration.
    • Circular Carbon Economy (CCE) Platform as a tool towards affordable, reliable, and secure energy and economic growth.

    India’s Initiatives for Tackling Climate Change

    • India set up the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources in 1992 and renamed it Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in 2006, laying the foundation for renewable energy growth.
    • India has made remarkable commitments to tackle climate change and is on track to achieve its Paris Agreement targets.
    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi resolves to see India emerge as a leader in the renewable energy space. He has set an ambitious target of achieving 450GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
    • Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), announced in 2017 to pool best practices and resources from around the world for reshaping construction, transportation, energy, telecommunication and water.
    • India-France joint initiative of International Solar Alliance (ISA) with an aim to reduce carbon foot-print.
    • Various National Schemes like National Action Plan on Climate Change, National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), National Biofuel Policy, etc.
    • At the recently concluded summit in Glasgow, Scotland, PM announced India’s national goals to significantly improve the proportion of renewable energy in its installed capacity and be net zero by 2070.

    Suggestions 

    • We must make renewable energy technology a global public good, including removing intellectual property barriers to technology transfer. 
    • We must improve global access to supply chains for renewable energy technologies, components and raw materials.
    •  We must cut the red tape that holds up solar and wind projects. 
      • We need fast-track approvals and more effort to modernise electricity grids.
    • The world must shift energy subsidies from fossil fuels to protect vulnerable people from energy shocks and invest in a just transition to a sustainable future. And fifth, we need to triple investments in renewables. 
      • This includes multilateral development banks and development finance institutions, as well as commercial banks.
    • We need more urgency from all global leaders. We are already perilously close to hitting the 1.5°C limit that science tells us is the maximum level of warming to avoid the worst climate impacts. 
    • We must reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by mid-century. 

     

    [Q] ‘Climate change’ is a global problem. How is India being affected by climate change? Discuss the measures suggested for mitigation of this impact.