Let’s take climate change seriously
It was in January of this year that Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar declared India the only country to meet its climate action commitments, although he did not represent that 6 to 7% of total carbon emissions in the world.
It was an important statement.
The minister again admitted this week that unbridled carbon emissions especially by Europe and the United States over the past 200 years, and over the past 40 years by China, have caused the climate catastrophe. The minister also admitted that New Delhi’s contribution to climate change over the past 200 years has been only 3%.
So it is clear that climate change is the next big issue for debate across the world and India is at the heart of it. On paper, developed countries owe developing countries $ 1.1 trillion as part of climate change mitigation under the Paris Agreement.
Rich countries, Javadekar said, pledged to provide $ 100 billion each year to help developing countries tackle climate change. But nothing has come of the past 11 years.
There are concerns about melting glaciers, rising sea levels, disappearing cloud forests and fighting wildlife. It’s clear that by releasing heat-trapping gases, people triggered much of the warming of the last century.
In short, climate change is not just causing average temperatures to rise, but also severe weather events, changing populations and ecosystems, rising oceans and a host of devastating impacts.
Despite the Kyoto Protocol and subsequent efforts, the environment continues to be threatened.
The Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement (which is to replace the first in December 2020) need immediate reform if we are to see substantial differences.
A major concern about the protocol and the agreement is the fact that binding targets are not in place for developing countries, which have experienced unprecedented growth in emissions due to rapid industrialization.
The problem with the Kyoto Protocol is that exempting developing countries, like China and India, from having to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions has been widely criticized, especially by Washington. But then, developed countries were big emitters of greenhouse gases when the protocol was formed and still today. Worse, the protocol does not focus on long term solutions. Instead, there is too much focus on short-term goals that allow countries to meet their emission reduction standards.
The famous author Amitav Ghosh in his book The great inconvenience: climate change and the unthinkable said laissez-faire ideas are still dominant in the Anglosphere and are still at the heart of the climate crisis. If the emissions of some countries were to be reduced and others were to increase, especially in possession of a large number of Carbon Credits, then it would ideally be a funnel leading to a redistribution of power.
Thus, climate change is not only a threat, but a threat multiplier that can potentially exacerbate already existing divisions and lead to the intensification of a series of conflicts. Perhaps the main obstacle to mitigation measures is the distribution of power within nation states that is at the heart of the climate change issue.
The impetus for industrialization of countries, part of the decolonization trajectories and the historical legacy of conflicts also anchored in the climate negotiations.
The Paris Agreement does not define the premises on which the objectives are based. Again, technological advances to keep greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and bury them deep underground are still emerging. Worse, there is not the slightest recognition of things that have gone wrong, the arrangements for resolving the crisis remain on the files.
So what is the alternative?
Instead of the cap and trade system which allows developed countries to continue their business as usual and are supposed to buy indulgences to give small amounts of money to developing countries in the form of compensations and funds for Adaptation, a progressive carbon tax must be established that would start at $ 1 per gallon of gasoline and the revenues would flow directly to members of the public in the form of a dividend inversely proportional to carbon footprints.
Developed countries must put a limit on profits and reinvest excess trade profits in investing in new technologies. For example: There is software in Australia called Gofar which is responsible for measuring the amount of fuel / carbon emitted by the vehicle and provides the driver and vehicle owner with regular feedback on this. For the moment, it is only available for private vehicles but thanks to international financing via the IMF and the World Bank, such technology should be made accessible to all vehicles particularly oriented towards developing countries.
International climate finance should be used as a lever to incentivize climate change resilient low carbon investments, complementing domestic resources in developing countries.
As for India, the nation needs an overwhelming passion for climate change, this has not happened despite the existence of countless environmental organizations. Political energy has increasingly focused on issues related to issues of religion, caste, gender rights, etc.
This is evident in the ignorance and lack of action taken by the respective governments for the victims of Cyclones Amphan and Yaas. There must be programs launched to promote climate literacy in these areas and as proposed by the government of Haryana; District irrigation plans leading to the creation of the National Irrigation Plan (SIP) are being developed to maximize the development of water sources within the irrigation network. This ensures solutions to water shortages through rainwater harvesting, distribution networks and improving the efficiency of agricultural technologies.
Everything else will fall into place.