India’s Attempt to Tackle Climate Change
Updated: Aug 20, 2022
The world has witnessed a stark rise in the frequency of wildfires, heatwaves, floods, landslides and droughts over the past decade – all preventable, if appropriate action is taken against it. The discussion on climate change occupies front stage everytime disaster strikes, however, the issue does not attract enough attention from world leaders, who hold enough power to tackle the problem appropriately. Action taken is rarely sufficient and often performative, which allows world leaders and others who hold power to continue destroying the environment without being held accountable for it.
The world has seen action at some level to tackle this growing problem, for instance, China, one of the highest producers of carbon emissions committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2060 as well as peaking its CO2 emissions before 2030. They have also taken steps to reduce coal production. However, while these actions have contributed to reducing the rate at which Chinese emissions are growing, the actual level of emissions are still increasing due to investment in new coal-fired power stations and the use of fossil fuels in industrial sectors like steel and cement. Every step taken in the right direction to combat the problem is accompanied by other problematic ventures, causing a negative outcome.
The United States enacted legislation involving climate change issues including tax incentives to promote renewable energy sources and carbon capture and sequestration efforts. President Biden announced a new GHG target for the United States: to reduce net GHG emissions by 50%-52% below 2005 levels by 2030. The growing popularity of electric car companies such as Tesla, in the USA and across the globe is another indicator of the gradual shift towards more sustainable choices.
India’s Climate Change Policy can be traced back to the year 2008 when the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) was announced by the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change. It has eight missions, however there is no body in place to check their progress. Despite the lack of concrete action to tackle the problem, India partakes in international alliances against climate change.
India was one of the 193 countries that adopted The Paris Agreement at COP 21 in Paris, on 12th December 2015, and was entered into force on 4th November 2016. Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. As a developing country of a population of over a billion, India is one of the leading contributors of carbon emissions. India plans to cut ‘emissions intensity’ by 33-35% by 2030 while also restoring forests to create carbon sinks. Further, India will join USA and China in investing in sustainable green energy. In March 2018, the Maharashtra government issued a notice banning the manufacture, sale and use of single-use plastic bags. However, use of single use plastic still continued and the efforts to enact the ban reached a standstill with the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic in March 2020. There was a sharp rise in single-use, disposable products to prevent infections, most commonly face masks. It is estimated that 4.4 to 15.1 million tons of pandemic related plastic waste was generated as of August 2021.
Rise in global temperatures is likely to harm those who contribute the least to it – the poor. Significant loss of life and property caused by landslides, droughts and floods is experienced by those living in rural areas, depending on nature for their livelihood, namely farmers. Major cities such as Mumbai, Kochi, Mangalore and Chennai could be submerged by 2050 – less than three decades from now. In 2022, India experienced severe heat waves across major cities, temperatures soaring between 40 and 49 degrees Celsius. The floods in the North-Eastern states of India gives further evidence of the severe consequences of climate change. Evidently, the problem is visible and measures to stop or even slow down such conditions are vital.
The unfortunate truth is while governments across the world pledge to make changes, the discussion of the pressing climate emergency does not occupy a centre stage in a world plagued with war and communal conflicts. According to CMBC TV18, from 1st July 2022, single use plastic items would no longer be allowed in the country. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had earlier in the year notified producers, shopkeepers, street vendors and the general public about the ban on such items that the government considers as single-use plastic. However, no notable restrictions have been observed yet.
Globalisation, industrialisation and capitalism has led to an unprecedented amount of importance being laid on Economic development and prestige takes greater importance than the climate emergency. Lifestyle changes made by common people are unlikely to have a significant outcome if the wealthiest and those with power in their hands do not make necessary changes in the fundamental functioning of the world. Sustainable economic development is the only way forward; Economic development on an uninhabitable planet is futile.
1. Chaturvedi, S. (2021, October 2). Analysing India’s Climate Change Policy – The Leaflet. The Leaflet – An Independent Platform for Cutting-Edge, Progressive, Legal, and Political Opinion. https://theleaflet.in/analysing-indias-climate-change policy/#:%7E:text=Though%20the%20Government%20of%20India,of%202015%20(the%20Bill)
2. CNBCTV18.com. (2022, April 1). India to ban single-use plastic items from July 1; but will it work? https://www.cnbctv18.com/environment/india-to-ban-single-use-plastic-items-from-july-1-but-will-it-work-13019862.htm
3. Deshpande, T. (2022, January 29). Budget2022: India’s New Climate Pledges Await Funding Push. Indiaspend. https://www.indiaspend.com/climate-change/budget2022-indias-new-climate-pledges-await-funding-push-800521
4. Goswami, U. (2021, October 18). India set to update 2030 climate targets under Paris Agreement. The Economic Times. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/india-set-to-update-its-2030-climate-targets-under-paris-agreement/articleshow/87098192.cms