Climate action: Tomorrow may be too late


N. Munal Meitei, Environmentalist

Today, the 24th October is the United Nations Day which is responsible for world peace, development and human security with 193 member countries. It’s an undisputed fact that the beautiful world we see today may not be there if UN does not exists. Now for maintaining peace and security, climate change has become an integral a part of our national security and hence the celebration of climate action day coinciding the UN day has become the greatest significance

In this universe, the earth is the only planet where there is living beings. If we do not take action right now to fight the climate change, then the beautiful hills, lakes, fields, meadows, forests and all living beings on this beautiful planet may be perished.

Caring for the planet is the moral issue. Countries have recognized that climate change presents an ever growing threat to development, poverty and the welfare of the citizens. The impacts of climate change has already being felt everywhere on the glove. We have felt the increase in temperature and the results of the extreme climates like intense droughts, water scarcity, melting polar ice, sea level rising, flooding, catastrophic storms, cyclone, severe fires, declining biodiversity and frequent earthquakes, etc. as compare to the previous years.

We are already amidst the stormy sea of the climate change. The world got the maximum climate related catastrophes this tear. As per India Metrological Department IMD, the temperature at Guwahati and Imphal as on the 16th October this year were 37.07°C and 28.8°C respectively and rainfall deficit in these regions is about 35% which never happened in the history.

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Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle. But since the industrial revolution during 1800s, human activities have been the main driver for climate change, primarily due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas emitting greenhouse gas that act like a blanket wrapped around the earth, trapping the sun’s heat and rising temperatures.

After Paris Agreement and Kyoto Protocol, countries are willing to build back better and invest in climate solutions while recovering from the pandemic. The climate emergency can only be solved with ambition, determination and political will from the heads of the states.

Under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, one outstanding issue is on carbon markets which can be an instrument to drive investments from industrialized countries to developing countries in climate action. The combined global fiscal response to COVID-19 was ₹1296 trillion as of March 2021, yet the ₹7200 billion climate finance pledge to developing countries remains unfulfilled. Switching to a clean economy could raise ₹202 trillion through carbon price revenues.

As emissions continue to rise, the earth is now about 1.1°C warmer and many people think climate change mainly means warmer temperatures. But temperature rise is only the beginning of the story because the earth is a system, where everything is connected; changes in one area can influence changes in all others. The value of health gains from reducing carbon emissions would be approximately double the global cost of implementing carbon mitigation measures.

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While committing to net zero emissions by 2050, about half of emissions cuts must be in place by 2030 to keep warming below 1.5°C. Fossil fuel productions also have to be reduced by 6% per year between 2020 and 2030 to drop emissions by 7.6% to keep1.5°C.Adaptation costs for developing countries may be in the range of ₹10080 billion to ₹21600 billion per year by 2030, and ₹20160 billion to ₹36000 billion annually by 2050.

Climate action is not a budget buster or economy-wrecker. Shifting to a green economy could yield a direct economic gain of ₹1872 trillion by 2030 and could create over 65 million new low-carbon jobs. Sustainable agriculture and strong forest protection could also generate over ₹144 trillion per year of economic benefits. Heat stress could reduce total working hours worldwide by 2.2% and a circular economy, based on the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle, could create around 6 million new jobs.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, global energy use fell by 4%and CO2emissions declined by almost 6% in 2020. But emissions have returned to their upwards trajectory and in December 2020 were about 2% higher than in 2019, before the pandemic. The food system currently accounts for 30 percent of the world’s total energy consumption and 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions come from land clearing, crop production and fertilization.

With global warming of 1.5°C, the majority of terrestrial species ranges are projected to shrink dramatically. Changes in ranges can adversely affect species conservation, greatly increase local species turnover and substantially increase the risk of global extinctions. Climate change has been linked to greater risks from zoonotic diseases.

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The UN agreed that limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C by 2100would help us avoid the worst climate impacts and maintain a livable planet. But as per IPCC WGI Fourth Assessment Report, the climate change predictions are not encouraging; a further increase in temperatures may be 1.8°C to 5.8°C by 2100. This is a most dreaded challenge. The cost of taking strong mitigation measures now would equate to a reduction in consumer spending globally of 1-4% in 2030 and 2-6% in 2050, compared to no action.

Climate change will also have tremendous impact on social and cultural aspects, with communities changing the way they live, work, worship and socialize in buildings, sites and landscapes, possibly leading to migration and the abandonment of their original homes altogether. This issue cannot be addressed without women as they are the key providers of food, water and energy, and at the same time, they bear the brunt of the climate crisis. Youths also have the important role in taking up the climate issue which is irreversible to find a better solution for the future.

It is a fact that climate change is always interconnected with all environmental issues. Climate change affects the living well-being. Therefore for a better tomorrow, we need to take up a firm stand on climate action today to save our environment and the beautiful planet.


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