23th September 2019- The Hindu Editorials Notes


Question – What does inward looking approach to climate change mean and in global politics where does India stand in this?(250 words)

Context – The Youth Climate Summit was held on 21st September, 2019.


Why in news?

  • Youth Climate Summit was held on 21st September this year and will be followed by a Climate Action Summit on 23rd September 2019.
  • The theme of the summit this year is  ‘Climate Action Summit 2019: A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win.’

What is Youth Climate Summit?

  • The UN Youth Climate Summit is a platform for young leaders who are driving climate action to showcase their solutions at the United Nations, and to meaningfully engage with decision-makers on the defining and taking meaningful action on the issue of our time.
  • It is a kind of diplomatic jaw-boning (use one’s position or authority to pressure (someone) to do something) by the united youth by increasingly being aware of the consequences of climate change.
  • While this is more noticeable in the global North, young people are also mobilising in India and other countries in the global South, as The New York Times reported that the organisers of the summit estimate four million youth turned out in protest (on Friday) against inaction on climate change around the world.

The present scenario:

  1. The report of the scientific advisory group to the summit has suggested that the five years since 2015 is set to be the warmest of any equivalent recorded temperature before 2015.
  2. The sea level rise is accelerating, and oceans have become 26% more acidic since the dawn of the Industrial era.
  3. There were recent  unusual events are the implications of a warming world. For example, this summer there was Delhi-like temperatures across southern Europe; 
  4. Hurricane Dorian rendered large parts of the Bahamas unliveable; and witnessed simultaneous raging fires in the Amazon, Central Africa and even Siberia. 
  5. But despite these evidences and the pledges made by countries, the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to increase.

So what are the reasons?

  • We know the common reasons responsible for climate change like emission of greenhouse, deforestation, over exploitation of natural resources, pollution etc.
  • so here we will analyse a more unconventional reasons. I.e. ‘political disconnect’ as a reason but climate change.
  • What do we mean by a political disconnect? – it means that there is a disconnect between the evidence of climate change provided by science and the national politics of the countries around the world to act more sincerely to resolve this.
  • One of the reasons for this is a turn toward nationalism or more specifically we can call it a growing inwards looking approach of in multiple countries that has created a short-term, look-out-for-our-own mentality that is not conducive to the global ‘collective action’ needed to address climate change.
  • Inward-looking approach means that countries are more interested in themselves and their self interests than in other people or societies.
  • For example,  the President of the United States, has not only refused to enhance actions to deal with climate change, but he has actively rolled back measures in the electricity sector and actions to limit methane emissions in the name of competitiveness. In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro has made it clear he sees environmental protections as limiting Brazilian business. 
  • And this inwards-looking approach in some countries makes it much harder to pursue aggressive collective action even in countries where the politics is more conducive.

To deal with this what is the probable approach that the UN is trying is adopt?

  • It is planning on taking a two-track approach.
  • First, in an exercise of diplomatic pressure, countries have been urged to enhance their pledges for action made as part of the Paris Agreement, committing to lower future emissions. 
  • But the success of this has been very limited till so far because even though a number of small and mid-sized countries, including the United Kingdom, have already committed to achieving the objective of making their economies net carbon neutral by 2050 (net carbon neutral economies means, the sum of emissions and uptake of carbon through ‘sinks’ such as forests is zero). By contrast, several large countries, notably the United States, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Japan and Mexico are least reluctant to do so. They are reportedly not even going to participate in the event at a high level.
  • China and India on the other hand have issued statements hinting that they are doing quite enough, and India has highlighted the need for enhanced finance if it is to do more. 
  • The second track focuses less on diplomacy and more on inducing changes in real economies through a set of ‘action portfolios’. Action portfolios means for example, furthering and accelerating an energy transition toward sources of low-carbon energy and turning energy intensive sectors such as steel and cement into more carbon friendly through promoting solar energy; making cities more liveable; and making industries more efficient and therefore competitive.
  • The second track is likely to lead to more fruitful results than the diplomatic one.

What does this global inward-looking approach mean for India?

  • According to several studies conducted by the World Bank and several other groups, it has been found that the tropical countries will be the most affected by climate change compared to those located in the temperate areas. And India is one of them. 
  • Besides location one of the main reasons is India’s dependence on favourable climate for agriculture. For example, any change in the monsoon can cause huge damage.
  • So this growing inward approach and lack of effective collective global action is most dangerous for India. We have to do our best and keep pushing for global collective action.

Need/ Way ahead:

  • India has the potential to show to the world how to deal with climate change and yet maintain development. A notable example is its energy efficiency track record of india because India is justifiably recognised for promoting renewable energy.
  • Africa is the continent that will be most affected by climate change according to the World Bank. Since, India and China are increasingly competing with each other to increase their influence in African nations, they have to recognise that they are also most vulnerable to climate change in Asia. So, they can jointly help ensure that Africa’s development is powered by ‘renewable energy’ rather than fossil fuels and based on an energy efficient future. Such an agenda could bring together economic, environmental and political gains.
  • Overall it is risky to depend on collective global action in an era of inward looking approach among countries world wide. So platforms like Youth Climate Summit must be promoted to create pressure on the policy makers to act collectively.

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