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India-Time to Say Good-Bye to Fossils
Divya | 24 Jun 2015

While negotiations held in Bonn, Germany re-started at a slow pace, there is growing momentum that a long-term goal to reduce global emissions will salvage the UN climate talks in Paris.


 

Currently 127 countries support a long-term goal that would act to limit global warming to within 2 degrees. However, there is ongoing debate surrounding exactly how ambitious this goal will be, and what year it will aim for.

 

Many of the world's most vulnerable countries, such as Samoa, Ethiopia and the Maldives have shown strong support for rapid emissions cuts needed to get to zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

In between all this, an Indian climate negotiator said the task at Bonn would not be easy as most of the countries were not willing to budge from their stand. He added that as the Prime Minister had made it clear, India would be insisting on pre-2020 emission targets as part of the deal."Having post-2020 emission reduction targets has no meaning unless rich countries have emission reduction targets for 2020. Many countries have opted out of the Kyoto Protocol making it a non-effective instrument," the official said.

The proposal is backed by China and a few other developing countries but may be resisted by the United States which has not given any emission reduction target for 2020.

The negotiations come at the time when several tropical countries, including India and Africa, are battling an intense heat wave. Though, present Indian government had taken stand on this issue by focusing on cleaning the holy river Ganga, Swach Bharat, extra attention to adopt solar power to name the few but still the intention seems to be not fully devoted since the problem still stands tall at its place with no changes at all. New Delhi, country's capital is still oozing with harmful gases which make it difficult for the people to survive with a healthy body. Also, politics is another main reason which is affecting the central government policies. The state governments show less or no interest in implementing these in their states out of the fear that central government party will become more strong and popular among the people. But will all this, Indian government is expected to take some crucial steps to stop the use of fossil fuel and encourage the use of renewable energy and this needs to be reflected on a global platform. India needs to cut decrease its carbon footprints from ten to absolutely zero very soon.

Many others support the idea of a global long-term goal of 'zero emissions' somewhere in the second half of the century. This would significantly reduce the chances of the world limiting emissions below the 2 degree target.

 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, any delay could put the world's health in jeopardy. If global emissions were cut to zero by 2075, they predict that we would only have a 66 per cent chance of keeping global temperature rise within 2 degrees.                

 

The countries currently most in favor of a global long-term goal are those who have domestic or national long-term goals already in place.

 

This includes large developed nations such as the UK, and the USA, who have long term goals of cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 83 per cent by 2050. However, there are many countries that have set out to get to zero emissions by 2050. These include Bhutan, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Maldives, Monaco, Norway and Sweden.

 

Bhutan, the country famed putting its Gross National Happiness ahead of its Gross Domestic Product, has also found that through a rapid switch to renewable energy, they can bring clean energy to the whole country. They have also looked into how to balance restricting their current source of income from mining, balancing job growth alongside sustainable development. They are now discussing schemes to cap mining industry emissions as well closely monitoring their carbon footprint.

 

Costa Rica is also aiming to be carbon neutral by 2021.  By the beginning of 2015 this Caribbean nation had already become the first country in the world to be powered by 100% renewable energy for 75 days straight.

 

These investments in renewable energy have also enabled them to bring the energy price down by between 7-15 per cent in the past year.  

 

They have also focused on improving their transport sector, the last significant emitter. In 1997 they began increasing taxes on petrol, using the added income to incentivize forest conservation and biodiversity management. This payment system has been so effective it has resulted in a dramatic reversal of what was once the fastest deforestation rate in the world.

 

Similarly, Denmark has committed to transform its current energy system.  Currently, Denmark receives 19 per cent of its energy from renewable. However, there are now de-carbonization plans with checkpoints for 2020, 2035 and 2050. Initially, they aim to increase wind power and biomass to achieve a 33 per cent renewable energy target by 2020.

 

Alongside this, the city of Copenhagen has committed to carbon neutrality by 2025. They combine energy efficiency measures with the now 249 miles of cycle routes and a network of heating and cooling pipes in buildings that has reduces the systems carbon emissions by nearly 70 percent and electricity consumption by 80 per cent.  

 

As Frank Jenson, Mayor of Copenhagen has argued, "we want to show that it is possible to combine growth and an increasing quality of life while reducing carbon emissions and meeting environmental challenges".

This is similar to calls in neighboring Oslo, where its Mayor Fabian Stang plans to "move Oslo from a low carbon towards a zero emission city."

 

Jenson and Stang however can't do it alone. Here, Denmark has built on momentum in regional areas. This includes grassroots movements in areas such as Sønderborg which has reduced emissions by 25 per cent over the last 7 years.

This balance of national, urban and regional action has proven a powerful collective solution to reducing national emissions.

 

 

What India needs to do?

 

Well, a lot has been said regarding the making of Green fund and more use of solar power, now is the time to ACT! We don't have the time left! Global warming is already showing its true colors here in India. Heat-wave has galloped almost 2000 to 3000 people and temperature is still going up. More and more investment is needed in the clean energy sector and use of fossil fuel must be discouraged at every level. This step will not only boost our economy, create more jobs but will obviously save our environment and will ultimately help us to fight from the critical signs of climate change. Himalayan range is melting due to green-house effect and an increased amount of carbon emission! This is indeed an alarming state as the danger of floods has been increased from the past three to four years.  What is needed now is less reliance on fossil fuels and protection of our forests which are now few in numbers but if saved could be increased as well.

India must present a strong commitment and plan in Paris. With it, the UN climate negotiations could regain its strength, and become a driving force of global efforts to end the reliance on fossil fuels.

 

 

Can India actually lead?

 

Mr.Narendra Modi has called for India to take a leading role in the increasing problem of climate change, by urging people to make changes in the lifestyles such as using more of bicycle and leaving streetlights off on full-moon nights. India can surely lead on climate change because India has got all this in its past roots but the intension has to be clear and right. India can become successful in solving this problem if it comes up with some good affordable solutions and not just impose choices. India, which is the third largest carbon emitter in the world, is now expected to reduce it and take serious pledge for the same. Mr.Modi has been advocating solar technology, and his government has decided to increase its solar-generated capacity to 100 gigawatts and its wind capacity to 60 gigawatts by 2022.  But at the same time, the country is doubling its coal productionto fuel its growing economy and electricity needs.

 

The stakes are definitely huge, but hopefully, A deal in December could prevent some of the warming expected to cause rising sea levels and extreme weather in coming decades.