The world has lost precious years in debating whether climate change is real or not? The conspiracy theories that wealthy nations do not want to see the developing ones shuddering shoulders with them is why their proactive role in curbing carbon emission has added to the awe. Unfortunately, the sovereign egos are still at play. Phrases like ‘climate justice’ and ‘carbon colonialism’ are being floated to refer to the arm twisting by western nations upon the developing world, thereby shifting the burden of net-zero emission to the latter. Whatsoever, it is the collective responsibility of the entire world to zero down carbon emissions to avoid doomsday. If we start working towards it now, we may evade the doomsday by a whisker. Otherwise, the end of the human race is inevitable. The remaining humanity - fortunate ones will have to start everything afresh from the stone age.
Even if India’s per capita emission is less than half of the global emission, India’s commitment for net zero emission by 2070 at Glasgow CoP 26 has rightfully answered the finger pointed global policy on climate change which often blamed India for not curbing unsustainable lifestyles and wasteful consumption pattern for the devastation. India’s demand for carbon budget from the rich countries is also justifiable as it cannot stop the growth of human development by clamping the use of non-renewable fuel, thus adding another misery of hunger. By challenging the western bully openly, India has successfully changed the objective of phasing down coal to phasing out. Coal was the driving force of the Industrial Revolution that started in Britain 350 years ago. Nevertheless, coal is one of the primary energy sources for the electrification and production of steel and cement. Its use declines when the saturation point is reached in infrastructure. However, India is far from attaining saturation when millions are still homeless, living under the open sky by the roadside or in dilapidated shanties. In such a situation, western countries will have to pay the price of emitted carbon since 1725 by donating funds under the aegis of the United Nations to India and other developing nations so that alternate sources of fuel can be harnessed to replace coal.
It would be wrong to say India is waiting for the international fund to reduce its carbon footprint. Steps are being taken indigenously at various levels to reduce carbon footprint. In her voyage towards industrialization, India has moved directly to renewable energy uses, electrification, electric vehicle, and the digital economy. India has also been trying to reduce its dependency on internal combustion engines. These are the initiatives taken up at the government level. However, it is equally essential to make the government and public bound constitutionally for clean energy. After the Stockholm Declaration on the global environment, the Constitution of India was amended to include protection and improvement of the environment as a fundamental duty. Article 253 of the constitution empowers the parliament to legislate laws to implement India’s signatory international agreements effectively. India’s prime minister took five pledges in Glasgow towards a transparent environment, including netzero emission by 2070. If the pledges are legislated by act/acts of parliament, the law enforcer would be constitutionally bound to fulfil the promises. As there are shreds of evidence that affluent households accelerate the emission of Carbon Dioxide, there can be central and state legislation on the ecological limit, energy, and land use, judicious distribution of electricity, urban design, etc. There also should be a robust system to gather information on sustainable wellbeing.
Impact Of Climate Change In The Northeast
India’s Northeast, known for biodiversity, is also worst affected due to climate changes. One of the reasons attributed to this is artificial. Large-scale deforestation in the region has made it vulnerable as forest cover is a natural sink of the carbon footprint. During 2001-21, 76 per cent of deforestation in the entire country took place in the Northeast. During this period, out of 1.93 million-hectare forest land wiped out in the entire country, 1.46 million hectares belonged to the Northeast. Alarmingly out of the total forest cleared in the Northeast, 60 per cent comes from Assam’s Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong district. Researchers from the University of Maryland have collated this data from the satellite image of forest cover.
According to experts, population explosion, corruption, unscientific use of land, etc have attributed to the loss of green cover in the Northeast. Moreover, coal mining, construction, vehicular congestion, loss of wetland, and hill excavation have added to climate change in the hilly areas. Because of this, there has been a rise in temperature and rainfall deficit. This season only, there has been a reduction of rainfall by 20 per cent. Moreover, mercury in Guwahati and Itanagar was as high as 37.8 degrees Celsius during October. The temperature in Shillong during October rose to 30 degrees Celsius. Even the world’s wettest area, Cherapunji, witnessed less rainfall this season. According to the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water assessment, Assam is five vulnerable states. On top of it, Dhemaji and Nagaon districts are the most vulnerable districts in the country.
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