It’s December and in Goa we haven’t really felt the chill in the air. Except for a few days since November, it has been rather warm for this time of the year. If you look at the data released by the Meteorological Department, the maximum temperature has been hovering around the above 34 going on to 35 and the weather report on December 3 showed a maximum of 34.8 degrees Celsius, a departure of 1.5 degrees Celsius from the normal, which means that on the day Goa celebrated the feast of St Francis Xavier it was hotter by 1.3 degrees this year than otherwise. This departure from the normal has been rather consistent over the past few days, and not an isolated sudden spurt on this one day. The minimum is also showing a minus 2.3 degrees departure from the normal, again consistent for the past few days.
Earlier in the year, we went through a monsoon that was far different from the normal. In June and July the State received copious amounts of rain leading to a deluge for days and going by that trend at that time it was not expected that Goa would at the end of the monsoon be showing a deficit. Look at the figures, Goa crossed the 50 inch mark on July 7 this year and the expectation was that it would cross 120 inches, but struggled to touch even 100 inches, falling way short in the end. A long dry spell led to the deficit rainfall. Normally, the 100 inch mark is met in late August. This monsoon, Goa went from an excess rain statistic of 15 per cent in mid-July to a 17 per cent deficit at the end of the monsoon. The national rainfall average also was in the red this year, but much less than that in Goa.
Which raises the question once again of whether there is a change in the climate pattern that we are actually experiencing even at this point of time. The question is relevant as in Katowice, Poland on Monday began the annual UN climate change conference, and this year as the delegates aim to reach a conclusion on implementing the guidelines for the Paris Climate Change Agreement, there will always be the weather induced disasters of the year – whether in California, USA or Tonga, Japan and for us the floods of Kerala that are still fresh in memory. Over 12 days representatives of the participating countries will deliberate on how to reduce the carbon footprint so as to reduce its effect on the climate.
India is expected to play a rather major role at the COP (Conference of Parties) this year. At a meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in Buenos Aires, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was attending the G2 summit, India’s role at the conference was discussed with the focus being on the importance on the completion of the Paris Agreement Work Programme, its transparency framework and climate finance. Under the Paris Climate Agreement, India has to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions up to 35 per cent by the year 2030. Modi promised that India would play its ‘due and responsible role’ at the conference.
A major role that India will play is in taking forward the International Solar Alliance, a treaty between 121 sunshine rich countries that lie fully or partially between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The alliance was initiated by India, with the aim to efficiently exploit solar energy that in turn will reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. In this regard, can Goa get started on improving the use of solar energy in the State and make its contribution towards the climate change mitigation efforts?