top of page
  • Raghav Sand

Planet Earth at Climate Change Crossroads

Climate change is a long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates. These changes have a broad range of observed effects that are synonymous with the term. Changes observed in Earth’s climate since the early 20th century are primarily driven by human activities, particularly fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere, raising Earth’s average surface temperature. These human-produced temperature increases are commonly referred to as global warming.

Extreme weather events have become more common in the last two decades. Warm weather holds more moisture; it has resulted in more rain across continents. Simulation and scenario analysis have failed to keep pace with real-world incidents.

Glasgow COP26: No Time to Lie

Twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties (COP26) is the next annual UN climate change conference. The summit will be attended by the countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty that came into force in 1994. COP26 will be hosted in partnership between the UK and Italy. The conference will be held in Glasgow from 1-12 November 2021, a year later than planned due to delays caused by the COVID pandemic.

Many people see it as the most significant climate event since the 2015 Paris Agreement – when all the signatories to the UNFCC agreed to keep temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

COP26 is critical because it’s the first moment when countries must set out more ambitious goals for ending their contribution to climate change under the Paris Agreement.

Food Wastage and Emissions

Food systems cause as much as a third of greenhouse gas emissions, up to 80 per cent of biodiversity loss and use up to 70 per cent of freshwater reserves. Sustainable food production systems should be recognized as an essential solution to these existing challenges. On 23 Sept, the first ever UN Food Systems Summit convened world leaders to spur national and regional action to transform the way we produce, consume and dispose of our food.

Following from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which raised a “code red” for human-driven global heating, the US administration, one of the world’s major agricultural producers, pledged $10 billion over five years to address climate change and help feed those most vulnerable without exhausting natural resources.

The Summit, called by the UN Secretary-General in 2019 to accelerate global progress by leveraging the interconnected importance of food systems, featured other commitments from more than 85 Heads of State around the world. Many countries announced national initiatives to ensure their food systems met not only the nutritional needs of their populations but also goals around climate change, biodiversity, and decent livelihoods for all.

National Average Temperature

The 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2005, and 7 of the 10 have occurred just since 2014. Looking back to 1988, a pattern emerges: except for 2011, as each new year is added to the historical record, it becomes one of the top 10 warmest on record at that time, but it is ultimately replaced as the “top ten” window shifts forward in time. Though warming has not been uniform across the planet, the upward trend in the globally averaged temperature shows that more areas are warming than cooling.

Temperature deviation to the average of 1951-1980 weather patterns

2020 was the warmest year thus far observed for both the continental averages of Europe and Asia, and effectively tied for the warmest in South America. Every nation has the duty to provide uninterrupted energy to its citizens. We cannot suddenly start rationing it arbitrarily. Human progress cannot be halted at this vital juncture. History has shown time and again that human progress has multiplied exponentially with advent of electricity and other fossil fuel-based machines. There is an urgent need to make clean energy less niche and more affordable.

Pollution and Rising Temperatures

Strict lockdown in 2020, due to the onset of Covid-19 pandemic, put the brakes on industrial and construction activity. Drastic fall in commute meant vehicular pollution registered a correction of unprecedented scale. With the return of economic activity to pre-pandemic levels, air quality is expected to take a severe beating. The air in almost every major city or town in India contains heavy metals and hazardous chemicals. As a result, citizens experience choking and burning eyes.

As on 30 Sept, just over 60-percent of the electricity in India is being produced from coal. Clean and renewable sources have been catching up in the last decade, but the electrification of hinterland needed short-term environmental trade-offs. Policy makers should draft a roadmap for transitioning to cleaner sources without further delay. Investment is not a problem when it comes to infrastructure and sustainability. Honest aspiration and the intention during implementation will decide the outcome of commitments made by governments and private sector.

Source: National Power Portal (GoI)

Clean energy sources have been intentionally and methodically sabotaged and underfunded. Even when the technology is ready for adoption, vested interests have made sure fossil fuel doesn’t concede market share. In yet another instance of corporate greed the priorities of our planet are being ignored irresponsibly. Do you expect the giant fossil fuel multinationals to fund clean energy initiatives? It isn’t going to happen. Governments have to fulfil their fiduciary duty by setting realistic and achievable targets. The practice of quid pro quo towards political donors can take humanity or for that matter all forms of life to the point of no return.

bottom of page