QUESTION : Discuss the key findings of IPCC Climate Assessment report 2021 on climate change . Should India be more concerned with climate change ?
The HIndu Editorial Topic : CODE RED
IPCC Report On Climate Change
WHY IN NEWS ?
The Indian Ocean is warming at a higher rate than other oceans, said the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
KEY FINDINGS OF THE IPCC REPORT :
- The recently released report is the first part of the Sixth Assessment Report by IPCC.
- The scientists warned that India will witness increased heatwaves and flooding, which will be the irreversible effects of climate change.
o The current overall global warming trends are likely to lead to an increase in annual mean precipitation over India, with more severe rain expected over southern India in the coming decades.
- Increase in Sea level:
o The warming of the ocean would lead to a rise in sea levels, leading to frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-level areas.
o With a 7,517-km coastline, India would face significant threats from the rising seas.
o Across the port cities of Chennai, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Surat and Visakhapatnam, 28.6 million people would be exposed to coastal flooding if sea levels rise by 50 cm.
- Extreme Monsoon:
o Monsoon extremes are likely to increase over India and South Asia, while the frequency of short intense rainy days is expected to rise.
o Models also indicate a lengthening of the monsoon over India by the end of the 21st century, with the South Asian monsoon precipitation projected to increase.
- The probable cause cited in the report:
o Stating that human activities are causing climate change, the report said the planet was irrevocably headed towards warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times in the next two decades.
- The increases in temperature, rainfall, or other factors like glacier melting that are reported in the assessment (report), are mainly averages.
o But averages often mask the extremes.
o In a 2°C warmer world, for example, not every day would be 2°C warmer than pre-industrial times.
o Some days can be 6°C to 8°C, or even 10°C, warmer.
o That is how global warming will manifest at the local levels
- Tropical Cyclones:
o Tropical cyclones are getting stronger and wetter, while Arctic Sea ice is dwindling in the summer and permafrost is thawing.
All these trends will get worse.
o Glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region will keep shrinking and the snow cover will retreat to higher altitudes.
o It is projected to increase in major mountainous regions with potential cascading consequences of floods, landslides and lake outbursts in all scenarios.
o The snow cover had reduced since the early 21st century and glaciers had thinned, retreated and lost mass since the 1970s.
However, the Karakoram glaciers had either slightly gained mass or were in an approximately balanced state.
o Snow-covered areas and snow volumes will decrease during the 21st century, snowline elevations will rise and glacier mass is likely to decline with greater mass loss in higher greenhouse gas emission scenarios.
o Rising temperatures and precipitation can increase the occurrence of glacial lake outburst floods and landslides over moraine-dammed lakes
o Permafrost thaw:
According to the report, mountain glaciers will continue to shrink and permafrost to thaw in all regions where they are
The human influence was responsible for the retreat of glaciers since the 20th century and that was not only the case in the two poles, but also for mountain glaciers.
o Glacial lake bursts, a familiar occurrence in the Himalayan region, is also an example of a compound event, accompanied as it is with heavy rainfall and flooding.
Compound events can be several times deadlier.
If occurring together, they feed into each other, aggravating each other’s impacts.
If occurring one after the other, they give little time for communities to recover, thus making them much more vulnerable.
- Report Recommendations:
o The countries strive to achieve net-zero emissions — no additional greenhouse gases are emitted — by 2050.
o In the most ambitious emissions pathway, the projection is that the globe would reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius scenario in the 2030s, overshoot to 1.6 degrees Celsius, with temperatures dropping back down to 1.4 degrees Celsius at the end of the century.
India has not yet committed to a net-zero timeline.
COUNTRIES COMMITMENT TO NET -ZERO TARGET :
- Several countries, more than 100, have already announced their intentions to achieve net-zero emissions by the middle of the century.
o These include major emitters like the United States, China and the European Union.
- India, the third-largest emitter in the world, has been holding out, arguing that it was already doing much more than it was required to do, performing better, in relative terms, than other countries, and that any further burden would jeopardise its continuing efforts to pull its millions out of poverty.
- The IPCC said that a global net-zero by 2050 was the minimum required to keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
o Without India, this would not be possible. Even China, the world’s biggest emitter, has a net-zero goal for 2060.
- Even for the countries that have pledged a net-zero target, the substantial part of their emission cuts is planned only for 2035 and beyond.
o The new evidence in the IPCC report is likely to put pressure on them as well to reconsider their pathways.
- The science is clear, the impacts of the climate crisis can be seen around the world and if we don’t act now, we will continue to see the worst effects impact lives, livelihoods and natural habitats
- The IPCC report could also lead to renewed demands that all countries update their climate action plans, called nationally determined contributions or NDCs in the official language.
o Under the Paris Agreement, every country has submitted an NDC, listing the climate actions they intend to take by 2025 or 2030.
o These NDCs have to be updated with stronger action, mandatorily, every five years from 2025.
o But the Paris Agreement also “requested” countries’ NDCs by 2020.
o Because of the pandemic, the deadline was extended to 2021 and expired at the end of July.
- About 110 countries have updated their NDCs, but not China, India, or South Africa.
- After the release of the IPCC report, several scientists and officials, including the executive secretary of UN Climate Change, lamented the fact that only half the countries had updated their NDCs with stronger action.
ABOUT IPCC REPORT:
- Every few years, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces assessment reports that are the most comprehensive scientific evaluations of the state of the earth’s climate.
- Set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the IPCC does not itself engage in scientific research.
- Instead, it asks scientists from around the world to go through all the relevant scientific literature related to climate change and draw up logical conclusions.
- So far, five assessment reports have been produced, the first one being released in 1990.
o The fifth assessment report had come out in 2014 in the run-up to the climate change conference in Paris.
o Recently on 9th August 2021, the IPCC released the first part of its sixth assessment report (AR6).
The two remaining parts would be released next year.
- The IPCC reports are created by three working groups of scientists.
o Working Group-I, whose report has been released recently, deals with the scientific basis for climate change.
o Working Group-II looks at the likely impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation issues, while
o Working Group-III deals with actions that can be taken to combat climate change.
- Over 750 scientists have contributed to the Working Group-I report that was released recently. They reviewed over 14,000 scientific publications.
- The assessment reports are the most widely accepted scientific opinion about climate change.
- They form the basis for government policies to tackle climate change, and also provide the scientific foundation for the international climate change negotiations.
- First Assessment Report (1990):
o Emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.
o Global temperatures have risen by 0.3 to 0.6 degrees Celsius in the last 100 years. In a business-as-usual scenario, temperatures are likely to increase by 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels by 2025, and 4 degrees Celsius by 2100
o Sea-level likely to rise by 65 cm by 2100
o This report formed the basis for the negotiation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.
- Second Assessment Report (1995):
o Revises projected a rise in global temperatures to 3 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100, sea-level rise to 50 cm, in light of more evidence.
o Global rise in temperature by 0.3 to 0.6 degrees Celsius since late 19th century, “unlikely to be entirely natural in origin”.
o This report was the scientific underpinning for the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.
- Third Assessment Report (2001):
o Revises projected a rise in global temperatures to 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius by 2100 compared to 1990.
o The projected rate of warming is unprecedented in the last 10,000 years.
o Rainfall will increase on average.
o The report also predicts that by 2100, the sea level is likely to rise by as much as 80 cm from 1990 levels. Glaciers to retreat during the 21st century.
o Frequency, intensity and duration of extreme weather events to increase.
o Presents new and stronger evidence to suggest that global warming is mostly attributable to human activities.
- Fourth Assessment Report (2007):
o Greenhouse gas emissions increased by 70 per cent between 1970 and 2004.
o Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 in 2005 (379 ppm) were the maximum in 650,000 years.
o In the worst-case scenario, global temperatures could rise 4.5 degrees Celsius by 2100 from pre-industrial levels. Sea levels could be 60 cm higher than 1990 levels.
o The report won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for IPCC and was the scientific input for the 2009 Copenhagen climate meeting.
- Fifth Assessment Report (2014):
o More than half the temperature rise since 1950 is attributable to human activities.
o Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide “unprecedented” in the last 800,000 years.
o Rise in global temperatures by 2100 could be as high as 4.8 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times
o More frequent and longer heatwaves are “virtually certain”
o “Large fraction of species” face extinction. Food security would be undermined.
o This report formed the scientific basis for negotiations of the Paris Agreement (2015)
INDIA’S EFFORTS AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE :
India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under Paris summit:
- Decrease in Emissions intensity
- Electricity generation capacity from non-fossil sources
- Creation of Carbon sink
International Solar Alliance:
- ISA is a global alliance being initiated by India as well as headquartered in India, with France as a partner country. Currently, it has 88 members. It is aimed at promoting research to develop more efficient, low-cost solutions to the global energy requirements, by leveraging advanced technology as well as providing incentives and regulation of solar power. Initially, its membership was restricted to countries within the tropics, commonly referred to as countries with high solar resource potential. However, now it has been thrown open to all UN members.
- Climate Transparency Report: Amongst the G20 members, India is the only country to have consistently fared at the top in the Climate transparency report, with Indian actions being consistent with the goal of not allowing the global temperature to cross 2 degress C of the pre-industrial levels.
- Mobilisation of resources: India is earmarking a large part of its developmental resources to the fight against climate change. This is a stupendous effort as compared to the western countries, which are already at the advanced stages of development. In fact, through its efforts in the direction of utilisation of solar power, India has now created a situation where the generation of solar energy is now cheaper compared to any other source of power.
NATIONAL ACTION PLAN ON CLIMATE CHANGE :
National Action Plan on Climate Change was prepared by the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change in 2008. This plan balances India’s responsibility for taking measures to control climate change without compromising on the development front.
The National Action Plan focuses on the attention of 8 National Missions. These are:
- Solar Energy
- Enhanced Energy Efficiency
- Sustainable Habitat
- Conserving Water
- Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem
- A “Green India”
- Sustainable agriculture
- Strategic Knowledge Platform for Climate Change
INDIA AND CLIMATE CHANGE :
One of the Largest Emitters: For India, the third-largest carbon emitter after China and the United States, a decisive switch is needed from highly polluting coal and petroleum to cleaner and renewable power sources.
o China has announced carbon neutrality by 2060, Japan and South Korea by 2050, but India is yet to announce a target.
Global Rankings and Estimates: The HSBC ranks India at the top among 67 nations in climate vulnerability (2018),
o Germanwatch ranks India fifth among 181 nations in terms of climate risks (2020).
o The World Bank has warned that climate change could sharply diminish living conditions for up to 800 million people in South Asia.
o As per the Emissions Gap Report 2020, over the last decade, China, USA, EU27+UK and India combined, have contributed to 55% of the total GHG emissions.
ISSUES ASSOCIATED :
No Stringent Policies: A big worry is that the state and central governments have been diluting, instead of strengthening, climate safeguards for hydroelectric and road projects.
o Studies had flagged ice loss across the Himalayas has been rapidly melting thus increasing the dangers to densely populated catchments, but any hard and fast policy response has been lacking.
Lack of Proper Training Programs: There were no awareness programs or training provided to the people about disaster management by the government in case of the recent Uttarakhand floods.
Ignorance by Government: A 2012 expert group appointed by the government had recommended against the construction of dams in the Alaknanda-Bhagirathi basin, including on the Rishiganga and in “the periglacial zone,” but the recommendations were ignored.
o Similarly, ignorance of the Kerala government in terms of regulation of mining, quarrying and dam construction in ecologically sensitive places, led to massive floods and land slides.
Ineffective Satellite Monitoring: Physically monitoring of the entire Himalayan region (or any larger disaster-prone region) is not possible. However, satellite monitoring is possible and radars can help minimise loss.
o Despite possessing remarkable satellite capabilities, India still hasn’t been able to use such imagery effectively for advance warning.
WAY FORWARD :
- This moment requires world leaders, the private sector and individuals to act together with urgency and do everything it takes to protect our planet.
- The IPCC report will be a wake-up call for the world to take action now before we meet in Glasgow in November for the critical COP26 summit.
- Immediate emission cuts and a steady pathway to net-zero is expected to bring better benefits than a business-as-usual scenario and a sudden drop in emissions towards the end to meet the target.
- All nations that have not yet done so, still have the opportunity to submit ambitious NDCs.
- Nations that have already submitted new or updated NDCs still have the opportunity to review and enhance their level of ambition.
Sustainable growth depends on timely climate action and for that to happen, policymaking needs to connect the dots between carbon emissions, atmospheric warming, melting glaciers, extreme floods and storms.
QUESTION : Discuss the issues of plastic waste in India and how will plastic pacts model help in reducing this waste in reference to the global scenario ?
A CIRCULAR ECONOMY FOR PLASTIC
Indian Plastic Pacts
WHY IN NEWS ?
The India Plastics Pact, the first in Asia, will be launched in September at the CII Annual Sustainability Summit.
ISSUE OF PLASTIC WASTE :
- A 2019 report by the Center for International Environmental Law suggests that by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach over 56 gigatonnes, 10-13% of the remaining carbon budget.
- Connection with livelihood: Viewed from the angle of livelihoods, post-consumer segregation, collection and disposal of plastics make up about half of the income of 1.5- 4 million waste-pickers in India.
- For India, the solution must be multi-pronged, systemic, and large scale, to create a visible impact. The Plastics Pacts model offers such a solution.
PLASTICS PACTS MODEL :
- Business-led initiative: The Plastics Pacts are business-led initiatives and transform the plastics packaging value chain for all formats and products.
- The Pacts bring together everyone from across the plastics value chain to implement practical solutions.
- Integral to the Pact’s framework is the involvement of the informal waste sector crucial to post-consumer segregation, collection and processing of plastic waste.
- All Pacts unite behind four targets:
1) To eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging through redesign and innovation.
2) To ensure all plastic packaging is reusable or recyclable.
3) To increase the reuse, collection, and recycling of plastic packaging.
4) To increase recycled content in plastic packaging.
- It is active in a number of countries including the U.K., South Africa, and Australia.
- The first Plastics Pact was launched in the U.K. in 2018, by WRAP, a global NGO based in the U.K.
- It is now being brought to India by CII and WWF India.
ITS ADVANTAGES :
- Economic advantage: It can be expected to boost demand for recycled content, investments in recycling infrastructure, jobs in the waste sector, and beyond.
- Support EPR framework: The Pact will support the Extended Producer Responsibility framework of the government and improve solid waste management as envisioned in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
- The India Plastics Pact focuses on solutions and innovation.
- Plastic production and management development: The Pact will encourage the development and maturing of the entire plastics production and management ecosystem.
- Drive circulatory of plastic: Apart from benefits to society and economy, delivering the targets will drive the circularity of plastics and help tackle pollution.
CIRCULAR ECONOMY :
The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended.
In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum. When a product reaches the end of its life, its materials are kept within the economy wherever possible. These can be productively used again and again, thereby creating further value.
Principles in Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy:
It is based on three principles:
o Design out waste and pollution.
o Keep products and materials in use.
o Regenerate natural systems.
WAY FORWARD / SUGGESTIONS :
Recycling and reuse of plastic materials are the most effective actions available to reduce the environmental impacts of open landfills and open-air burning that are often practised to manage domestic waste.
Sufficient litter and recycling bins can be placed in cities, and on beaches in coastal areas to accelerate the prevention and reduction of plastic pollution.
Governments, research institutions and industries also need to work collaboratively redesigning products, and rethink their usage and disposal, in order to reduce microplastics waste from pellets, synthetic textiles and tyres.
Existing international legally binding instruments should be further explored to address plastic pollution.
Reiterating the government’s commitment to phase out identified single-use plastic items that have low utility and high adverse environmental impact,
There is a need for a National Action Plan or guidelines that should focus on implementing the plastic ban in a phase-wise manner in terms of urgency.
This means products that have alternatives available should be phased out earlier than those that don’t have alternatives, simultaneously reinforcing R&D funding for different alternatives and eco-friendly products.
The phase-wise banning should be developed based on materials, recyclability, availability of alternatives and livelihood security to the informal sector.
The India Plastics Pact will benefit society, the economy and the environment.