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13th February 2021 – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Content

  1. Climate change resilience actions, in step with India

Editorial: Climate change resilience actions, in step with India

Context:

  •  2020 demonstrated the importance of innovation, resources and leadership to protect and support our communities and countries.

Relevance:

  • GS Paper 3: Environmental conservation; Environmental pollution and degradation; Environmental Impact Assessment

Mains Questions:

  1. Define the concept of carrying capacity of an ecosystem as relevant to an environment. Explain how understanding this concept is vital while planning for sustainable development of a region. 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • What is climate change?
  • The Human Fingerprint on Greenhouse Gases
  • Opportunity at summit
  • Ensuring resilience: Australia’s Example
  • India Australia Cooperation
  • Green technologies
  • Way Forward:

What is climate change?

Climate change is a long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates. These changes have a broad range of observed effects that are synonymous with the term.

  • Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale.
  • Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.

The Human Fingerprint on Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases occur naturally and are essential to the survival of humans and millions of other living things, by keeping some of the sun’s warmth from reflecting back into space and making Earth livable.

  • But after more than a century and a half of industrialization, deforestation, and large scale agriculture, quantities of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have risen to record levels not seen in three million years.
  • As populations, economies and standards of living grow, so does the cumulative level of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions.

There are some basic well-established scientific links:

  • The concentration of GHGs in the earth’s atmosphere is directly linked to the average global temperature on Earth;
  • The concentration has been rising steadily, and mean global temperatures along with it, since the time of the Industrial Revolution;
  • The most abundant GHG, accounting for about two-thirds of GHGs, carbon dioxide (CO2), is largely the product of burning fossil fuels.

Opportunity at summit

  • The virtual Climate Adaptation Summit hosted by the Netherlands on January 25-26 provided a valuable opportunity to the international community for collective action to realise a more climate-resilient future.
    • At the summit, Australia reaffirmed our commitment to ambitious and practical action to combat the impacts of climate change at home, in our region, and around the world.
  • Impact of Climate Change: The recent bushfires demonstrated the importance of bringing together traditional Indigenous knowledge about the land with modern science.
    • Indigenous Rangers are on the frontline of this work, preserving and protecting Australia’s natural and cultural heritage. For example, using traditional fire management practices, through cool and controlled burns.

Ensuring resilience: Australia’s Example

  • Resilience Infrastructure: Australia has committed over ₹1,500 crore to making our natural resources, environment and water infrastructure more resilient to drought and climate disasters and spend more than ₹200 crore on bushfire recovery efforts, supporting local communities to design their own economic, social and environmental recovery.
  • National Resilience, Relief and Recovery Agency: By July 2021, Australia will establish a new National Resilience, Relief and Recovery Agency to drive the reduction of natural disaster risk, enhance natural disaster resilience and ensure effective relief and recovery to all hazards.

India Australia Cooperation:

  • Australia’s strong support for the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, spearheaded by India, is an example of how India and Australia are working together with partners — such as India — to help ensure our infrastructure is resilient and adapts to the effects of a changing climate.
  • International Organization: As is our ongoing engagement with the International Solar Alliance — a global initiative designed to harness solar power to provide for the energy needs of members of the alliance.
  • Water Resource Management: Our work with India on Water Resources Management is another important initiative initiated by India and designed to further enhance each country’s water management capabilities and share expertise and best practice.

Green technologies

  • Investment for Green Technology: To support our resilience and adaption efforts, Australia is also investing in and developing the green technologies of tomorrow. Indeed, Australia is aiming to leverage ₹7,000 crore of new investment in low emissions technologies by 2030.
  • Future Roadmap: To get there, we recently released our Technology Investment Roadmap — a comprehensive plan to invest in the technologies we need to bring emissions down, here and around the world.
  • Diversification: India and Australia are focussed on accelerating technologies like hydrogen, carbon capture use and storage, soil carbon, energy storage to backup renewables and decarbonise transport, and low or zero emissions steel and aluminium.
  • The Australia-India Joint Energy Dialogue will strengthen cooperation between our two countries in pumped hydro storage, cost-effective battery technologies, hydrogen and coal gasification, adoption of clean energy technology, fly ash management technologies, and solar forecasting and scheduling.

Way Forward:

Tackling climate change is a balancing act between the present and the future. One way to do this would be to frame more holistic goalposts. Current policies seek to maximize GDP, which does not capture the potential for future prosperity entirely. An alternative could be something like the UN’s Inclusive Wealth Index, which measures three different types of capital: Produced (infrastructure, etc.), human (education, etc.) and natural (land, forests, etc.), all of which are important for prosperity to sustain. The UN measure is not perfect but is useful to track multiple indicators that feed into a society’s progress.

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