Hope On Climate Change - Reasons to Be Optimistic
TerraGreen|July 2021
The total commitments made under the Paris Agreement were too little to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, whereas scientists agree that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is vital. Ajay Shankar says that recent developments give cause for optimism for the first time as the President of the USA has brought the USA back into the Paris Agreement and is providing leadership for a net carbon-neutral global economy. Also, India could set an example in the deployment of renewable energy installations as it is already leading the way with the dramatic increase in renewable energy generation in the last decade. Keep reading to know more about the latest developments…
Ajay Shankar

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015 was a landmark achievement with all countries agreeing to act to save the planet from the impending disaster of global warming. But within a year, Donald Trump became the President of the USA and took America out of the Paris accord. The total commitments made under the agreement were too little to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, whereas scientists agree that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees is imperative. The actual achievements till COVID-19 hit the world were meagre. The prognosis for mankind appeared to be getting bleaker by the day.

But recent developments give cause for optimism for the first time. President Joe Biden campaigned for the Presidency with climate change as a major priority; one of his top four. As President, he has brought the US back into the Paris Agreement and is providing leadership for a net carbon-neutral global economy. Within the US he is positioning this transition as one which creates jobs and would aid faster economic recovery from the severe downturn caused by the pandemic. It is a key pillar of the massive infrastructure programme which he is trying to get through Congress. He has asked his Department of Energy to work out the implementation of his campaign pledge of having a fossil fuel-free electricity system in the US by 2035.

This big change in the US comes in the wake of public opinion reaching a critical mass in the developed countries of the West. The UK and France enacted national laws in the summer of 2019 setting the goal of becoming net carbon-neutral by 2050. California enacted a law in 2018 of having a zero-carbon electricity system by 2045 and this was followed by an Executive Order of having a carbon-neutral economy by 2045. The UK decided that from 2030 sale of fossil fuel cars would not be permitted. The development of artificial islands to harness wind power in the North Sea area is becoming commercially viable. An island off the coast of Denmark is at an advanced stage of planning.

One of the first things, President Biden did internationally was to hold a summit on Climate Change with all major countries participating including China and Russia. The major developed economies announced enhanced carbon reductions goals in the short term; the US announced that it would by 2030 reduce emissions by 50 per cent over its 2005 levels and the UK by 78 per cent by 2035 over 1990 levels and Germany by 65 per cent over 1990 levels. The Group of Seven (G-7) countries have now agreed not to fund any new coal-based power plants. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said net carbon zero by 2050 requires that no new investments in fossil fuels should be undertaken. This is heartening. Reductions are not being back ended. This would make it easier for others to enhance goals. Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees may just be possible.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM TERRAGREENView All

Educational Institutes for Children - That Emphasize on Teaching Compassion Towards Nature and Animals

“The aim is to add love and compassion in society, to add meaning to human life and to pass on virtue to the kids who become the flagbearers of kindness.”

4 mins read
TerraGreen
September 2021

Scientist Pens Comic Book - To Educate School Children on Hedgehogs

Madras hedgehogs, one of the less studied and less known species is not much talked about, unlike large mammals such as tigers, elephants, or even birds. Sharada Balasubramanian tells us about Brawin Kumar, a researcher with the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), who has been working on finding these hedgehogs spread across the arid geographies of Tamil Nadu. He has published a comic book in the local language Tamil. This book talks about hedgehogs to school children who live in these geographies. Brawin believes educating students, and giving training programmes to teachers on this species, would really bring more awareness. In turn, it will help in conservation of these species, which are disappearing due to land-use changes and development.

6 mins read
TerraGreen
September 2021

Skilling the Youth Ecosystem - Can It Be an Antidote to Society's Overstretched Job Scenario?

International Youth Day is celebrated annually on August 12 to bring youth issues to the focus of the international community and to celebrate the potential of youth as active partners in the global society. In this article, Dr Livleen K Kahlon expounds on the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and feels that we need to act now to catch the ‘potential workforce’ at an early age and equip them with soft skills and technical expertise so that once they step out of their formal education stage they are able to earn their living. Avenues are to be created to match the skills of every youth and some of these areas are being addressed by the NEP.

10 mins read
TerraGreen
September 2021

Solar Cold Rooms - Helping Struggling Strawberry Farmers through India's Lockdown

2021 has been a traumatic year for India’s farmers—coronavirus has slashed their incomes, and they face the impact of new agriculture policies. Growers in the country’s strawberry capital are among those badly hit by the pandemic. But cutting-edge green technology has been a lifeline, protecting the small-scale farmers most at risk. Let us read how…

3 mins read
TerraGreen
September 2021

Aahwahan

Provides Free Education and Digital Literacy to Rural Children

2 mins read
TerraGreen
September 2021

Trailing the Grey Ghost - in the Eastern Himalaya

Rohan Pandit shares his vivid experiences during his survey of snow leopards in Arunachal Pradesh. The surveys were designed to rely on the immense body of traditional ecological knowledge of the local communities.

5 mins read
TerraGreen
September 2021

Urban Indigenous Groups in India - COVID Restrictions Pushing Them to Extinction

In this series of articles, Gajanan Khergamker talks about the daily life and the plight of local city tribals in metropolitan cities such as Mumbai who were already buckling under the apathy of urban attitudes, but now the COVID-related lockdowns have hit the city tribals the hardest. The author feels while the lives of urban indigenous groups are mired with controversy, they form an integral part of modern India’s present.

7 mins read
TerraGreen
September 2021

‘Friluftsliv' - Healing Touch of Mother Nature

Dr Surya Prakash throws light on the importance of spending time in nature to reap amazing physical and mental health benefits.

4 mins read
TerraGreen
September 2021

“We Have a Great Responsibility Towards Our Planet”

Prachur Shah is Deputy CEO, Cairn Oil & Gas, Vedanta Ltd. Here, he is in an exclusive email conversation with Abhas Mukherjee for TerraGreen.

6 mins read
TerraGreen
September 2021

Floods In India - Causes And Challenges

Flood is a very common phenomenon in India during the monsoon season. In this article, Dr Sughosh Madhav tries to find out the different reasons that cause floods and has made an attempt to link this phenomenon with the changing climate.

5 mins read
TerraGreen
September 2021