The 16-year-old environmental activist from Sweden – Greta Thunberg’s, crying appeal has shaken the conscience of the world leaders assembled at UN in New York.
“The eyes of all future generations are upon you. If you choose to fail us, I say, we will never forgive you,” she challenged the world leaders.
Climate Change is the single largest threat to human existence today. Unabated changes in the climate system would bring devastating consequences to the entire world.
“We must accept that if we have to overcome a serious challenge like climate change, then what we are doing at the moment is just not enough,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the world leaders. “What we need is a global people’s movement to bring about behavioural change,” he said.
“Need, not greed has been our guiding principle,” Mr. Modi told the world body’s special summit and said, India has come “not just to talk” about the seriousness of this issue, but to present a “practical approach and a roadmap”.
A report prepared by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, has projected a 6 degree Celsius temperature increase over the Asian landmass by the end of the century.
These increases in temperature would lead to drastic changes in the weather system, agriculture and fisheries sectors, land and marine biodiversity, domestic and regional security, trade, urban development, migration, and health. Such a scenario may even pose an existential threat to some countries and crush any hope of achieving sustainable and inclusive development.
The threat is real and climate scientists have warned. However, we still can retrieve the situation.
“What is needed today, is a comprehensive approach which covers everything from education to values, and from lifestyle to developmental philosophy,” exhorted Prime Minister Modi.
The Indian Prime Minister listed concrete actions taken by India and presented a roadmap for times to come like setting up a collective platform to step up generation of renewable energy, e-mobility, technology innovation to develop low carbon pathways for industry, ban on single-use plastic, increase the proportion of biofuel blend in petrol and diesel, etc.
India has already started experiencing the changes – change in the pattern of rainfall, excessive floods and drought conditions. Twenty cities in the world are vulnerable to flooding, according to the Potsdam Institute’s assessment, four in India – Mumbai, Chennai, Surat and Kolkata
Climate change will also make food production more difficult and production costs higher. Food shortages could increase the number of malnourished children in South Asia by 7 million.
It also poses a significant risk to health. Already, 3.3 million people die every year due to the harmful effects of outdoor air pollution, with China, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh being the top four countries experiencing such deaths.
Warmer climate could exacerbate energy insecurity, which could lead to conflicts as countries compete for limited energy supply.
India has taken the initiative along with France to establish the International Solar Alliance in an attempt to assist and help achieve the common goals of increasing the use of solar energy in a safe, convenient, affordable, equitable and sustainable manner.
India is planning to increase the share of non-fossil fuel, and by 2022 we plan to increase our renewable energy capacity to much beyond 175 GW, and later till 450 GW. We have made plans to make our transport sector green through e-mobility, Prime Minister Modi detailed India’s roadmap.
UN, as a global body needs to make it legally binding on any country to comply with its mandate. It must go beyond exerting moral pressure.
The respect for nature, the judicious use of resources, reducing our needs and living within our means has all been important aspects of both our traditions and present day efforts. For India, it is a tradition to live in harmony with nature, Prime Minister Modi told the gathering.
India, like many countries is balancing the needs and aspirations of 1.3 billion people, while mitigating climate change. But, if we fail in our responsibility today, the future would never forgive us.
Script: N. Bhadran Nair, Executive Editor, Indian Science Journal