Weather alarms highlight need to accelerate low-carbon economy
With India too witnessing a change in its weather patterns, researchers believe climate change may not only challenge the country’s conventional development pathways but also pose a serious threat to its economy.
Considering that climate change is the single biggest existential threat the country faces today, they say greenhouse gas reduction must happen immediately and call for green financing to combat climate change threats.
The southwest monsoon rainfall in India has been below average in five of the last six years. And if the rainfall remains below average this season, it will be for the third consecutive year.
India Meteorological Department (IMD) data says the cumulative monsoon rainfall for the country from June 1 to August 8 was 10 per cent below the long-period average (LPA).
Monsoon rainfall was 5 per cent lower than normal in the central regions of the country, while it was as high as 25 per cent deficit in east and northeastern states.
According to a World Bank report in June, climate change could cost India 2.8 per cent of its GDP due to extreme weather events and changes in seasonal patterns.
The report estimates nearly half of India’s population could face a degraded living standard by 2050.
So what are the economies for climate change in India?
The landmark 2015 Paris agreement aims to limit global warming below two degrees Celsius by collective reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement was adopted by nearly 200 countries, including India.
This provides a challenge for a country like India where 200 million people don’t have access to electricity. The challenge is immense, yet the solution brings an opportunity — innovative financing in green technology.
India has to offer a lot of positive examples of climate ambition and clean energy development, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) Director General Ajay Mathur said.
The growth of renewables, the increase in energy efficiency, scaling up of electric mobility and even the recognition of linkages between air quality and climate change all demonstrate the country’s climate action, he told IANS.
The challenges posed by climate change offer a slew of opportunities for corporate houses to take the lead.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra took the initiative by committing to science-based targets to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.
Science-based targets give corporate houses a clear roadmap for how much they need to shrink their carbon footprint in line with the Paris agreement goals.
Mahindra has now been invited to co-chair the Global Climate Action Summit to be held in San Francisco from September 12 to 14.
The summit aims to accelerate action toward the transition to a low-carbon economy.
This way, summit organisers are helping building a momentum for a successful outcome for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) slated to be held in Katowice, Poland, this year.
“As more and more companies recognise that climate change provides an opportunity to disrupt and reshape the way we do business, reduction in carbon emissions will be mostly driven by market forces rather than the climate imperative,” Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) CEO Arunabha Ghosh said.
A good example of this is solar and wind industry, where falling prices have challenged traditional fossil-based power generation, and going ahead, most of the new capacity addition will come from the renewable sources of energy.
With advancement in technology and India’s strong thrust on favourable policies for solar, there has been a rapid cost deflation in solar energy.
“Reforms in electricity sector will lead to more profitability for distribution companies which, as of now, incur huge losses,” Ghosh said.
Wind energy is also not far behind.
With solar and wind now cheaper than coal or any other fossil fuels, rapid deployment is now possible. Sixty-five percent of existing coal is already costlier than new solar and wind.
India has a target of achieving 175GW of wind and solar by 2022.
Union Power Minister R.K. Singh has announced that India may install 225GW of solar and wind by 2022.
Similarly, the focus that the country is now placing on electric mobility offers a chance for large-scale adoption of electrical vehicles (EVs), thereby offering massive co-benefits around managing air pollution and cutting back on inflating oil import bills.
The reduction in carbon emissions if EVs are fully powered by renewable energy is going to be a very promising scenario.
Studies say transportation accounts for 26 per cent of global carbon emissions. It is the only sector where carbon emissions continue to grow, adding to the climate change burden.
Rapid deployment of renewable energy, and a shift to electric mobility not only makes climate sense, it also makes economic sense, added an expert.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)