(December 21, 2021)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made five significant commitments at the COP26 climate summit recently. First – India will take its non-fossil energy generation capacity to 500 GW by 2030, second – India will meet 50% of her energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030, third – India will reduce its total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now until 2030, fourth – by 2030, India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45% and fifth – by the year 2070, India will achieve the target of Net-Zero carbon emissions.
Notably, this positioned India as one of the key signatories and spelt out the nation’s commitment towards tackling emissions from the burning of fossil fuel. While this sets out a clear roadmap for our country to follow, the intersectorial contribution of states, industries and people will be important in helping us reach this target.
The conversation on expanding renewable energy capacity by establishing the International Solar Alliance, handing out concessional financing and training by facilitating knowledge exchange are all initiatives already underway.
States have been asked to identify areas for setting up solar parks and given targets to meet energy demands through renewable sources. Private corporations have been roped in to reduce dependence on import of solar cells and international MoUs have been signed to ensure that waste management and recycling are executed properly.
From the macro lens, two major stakeholders – the government and industries – are working to fight climate change, and there is no doubt that their contribution will be key to ensuring that temperature rise is kept below 1.5 degrees celsius. However, this effort requires coordination and cooperation from every individual.
Youth and children will be worst affected by climate change and must be educated about the pitfalls of the society not acting in unison. Ushering in social and behaviour change will be vital as it will drive every individual to adopt a sustainable and environment-friendly lifestyle.
Schools have taken cognisance of the need to make children aware of the repercussions of climate change. They have set up modules to drive behaviour change. From plantation drives to energy-saving practices, today’s children, especially those from privileged backgrounds, are taught the best practices needed to reduce their carbon footprints.
Income inequality creates a big divide, increasing exposure of the poor to the impact of climate change. People from marginalized communities must be aided through innovative and impactful climate solutions.
The recent COP26 saw parties acknowledging the need to fully embed science in thier decision-making processes. We must build robust climate change mitigation strategies through technological innovation to address climate change at the grassroots as well as globally.
A number of corporates have now adopted robust sustainability practices and are imbibing systemic change by adopting technology to fight climate change, while civil society organisations have stepped forward to address climate action at the grassroots.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rededicate ourselves to innovate to mitigate climate change. It has highlighted the impact of infectious diseases on the global socio-economic landscape.
Climate change threatens to trigger the spread of a number of viral diseases with drastic repercussions. The urgency to act against climate change has never been greater.
Over the past decade, India has experienced several climate emergencies, from flashfloods to droughts to heatwaves. India’s action towards mitigating climate changeis dependent on multiple factors.
Our country requires all stakeholders – the government, corporates and civil society organisations to work closer than ever and devise solutions for the greater good. Each of these stakeholders brings unique strengths to the table and their roles are complementary.
While the government has scale, corporates have the wherewithal to fund research and innovation. Civil society organisations have reach and on-ground connect, matched by rich experience of delivering solutions at the last mile.
All these stakeholders must combine strengths to help humanity emerge out of the impending climate crisis.
The author is co-founder and Executive Trustee, Smile Foundation. The opinion expressed in the article are author’s own.