Friday, December 1, 2023

Climate change negotiations lagging by a decade: TERI

By Kushagra Dixit
New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS)
While the threshold for the Paris climate change agreement has been achieved, paving way for negotiations to implement it in 2020 — aiming to limit the global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius — experts said the world is already lagging by a decade.

This, even as nearly 200 countries agreed at Kigali to phase out HFCs.

“If I go by the IPCC, we are staggering back by at least 10 to 12 years. The global intent, action, negotiations and talks on climate change should’ve started at least a decade back and the awareness part even before that,” Suruchi Bhadwal, Associate Director, Earth Science and Climate Change Division, TERI, told IANS. The United Nations(UN) formed Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to assess knowledge on climate change.

For instance, global temperature is already up by an average of 0.87 degrees and 0.4-0.5 degrees for India, while ocean temperatures have risen by almost 0.10 degrees Celsius.

Bhadwal said the delay in achieving the goals of the Kyoto Protocol was the major reason for the backlog, amid a World Bank report that air pollution alone killed three million people in India and China in 2013.

She spoke on the sidelines of just-concluded “The World Sustainable Development Summit” (WSDS) organised here by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Suggesting measures for mitigating climate change to catch up with the backlog, Bhadwal emphasised on mainstreaming the “climate risks into development planning”.

“Do talk of renewable or energy efficiency but first integrate the climate risks to the main concerns. Presently it’s addressed as a separate agenda,” she said.

She further stressed on the need for adequate financing, a right pricing structure and taxation as well as spreading mass awareness on the climate change issue. She also hailed the government’s decision to impose a clean energy cess on coal.

“We need a capacity-building campaign to spread mass awareness. Awareness about climate change should be like awareness about our fundamental rights,” she said.

Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar, while addressing a WSDS session, also spoke on updating the educational curriculum to create “environmental consciousness”. Javadekar previously headed the Ministry of Environment.

Commenting on the emissions and global warming from a Delhi perspective, Bhadwal urged improvement in transportation and urban waste management.

The records for October suggest that the temperature in Delhi had gradually increased since 2012. The maximum ranged from 36 to 33 degree Celsius in 2012, 39 to 33 degrees in 2014, 38.4 to 35 degrees in 2015 and 37.2 to 32 so far in 2016. Similarly, the minimum temperature ranges from 24 degree Celsius the minimum (upper limit) in 2012, 24 degrees in 2013, 26 degrees in 2014 and 2015 and 28 degrees in 2016 so far.

“If we move out of Delhi there will be a sudden change in temperature. It’s because the circulation of pollutants is confined here, leading to a heat trap,” she said, suggesting improvement in public transport and promotion of car pooling for a lesser carbon foot-print.

“Every day, approximately 10,000 vehicles are added on the roads in Delhi,” she added.

Andreas Klugescheid, from automobile giant BMW, spoke of an ambitious project where people in Hamburg would share an electric vehicle rather than own one.

Bhadwal said unmanaged urban waste as another major issue. India generates over 62 million tonnes of solid waste every year, of which only 12 million tonnes is treated. This figure is expected to rise to 436 million tonnes by 2050.

Even as the Union Environment Ministry this year revived over a decade-old waste management rules, landfill sites in Delhi continue catching fire, the most recent in October. The froth over Bellandur lake in Bengaluru also again caught fire in August. The government this year has estimated it would take three years to revive Bengaluru’s lakes.

“The waste at landfills contribute to methane emission that catches fire. Currently both bio-degradable and non-biodegradable wastes are dumped together,” Bhadwal said.

She further added that despite successful experiments where methane from landfills was converted into energy and the bio-degradable waste into manure, no “proper system was in place”.

“India is rich in experts. We have engineers, doctors and managers but we are not using that expertise to the best of our knowledge for a sustainable path. There has to be a will for that,” she said, adding that she is still “optimistic” as some people have started taking climate change seriously.

(Kushagra Dixit can be contacted at [email protected])

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