KOLKATA: Soon after an IPCC report mentioned Kolkata among cities that could face an increased threat of heat waves, environmentalists said the city would have to undergo some unprecedented and sweeping changes to withstand the impact of global warming.
According to them, the city first needs to cut down on its use of fossil fuel — at least by half in next 15 years and to do away with it in next 30 years. They also said that all houses in Kolkata should be powered by renewable energy, not coalfired thermal power, by 2050. Instead of wearing a wrist watch, every individual needs to carry a meter to measure his or her carbon footprints.
Within the next decade, the experts said, governments and people need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial (about 200 years ago) temperature. “It’s not an undoable goal. But it requires unprecedented and collective actions,” said Jayashree Roy of Jadavpur University, who’s one of the contributing authors of the report. “The steps we need to take may destabilise the life in the city to a great extent. It warrants reduction in use of fossil fuel to half in the next 15 years and completely doing away with it in next 30 years,” said environmentalist Somendra Mohan Ghosh.
The IPCC report said that average global temperatures could breach the 1.5 degree level as early as 2030.
Calamities like cyclones may assume higher intensity due to global warming, warned experts. According to them, if drastic steps are not taken to reduce carbon emission by every citizen and government, the city will face disasters like floods, heat waves, subsidence and draught at its immediate agro-producing zones.
Elaborating on why it’s important for India to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius, Nandikesh Sivalingam, campaign manager of Greenpeace India, said: “India is one of the most vulnerable countries for extreme weather events due to climate change. The report points out how regions in India will be exposed to extreme heat waves. As per the report, climate change will hamper GDPs of developing economies like India. The country’s long coastline is already dealing with the effects of sea-level rise, which will increase if the we fail to keep temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.”