Communicating and Collaborating for Resilient Solutions to Climate Change
Climate change is a real phenomenon which requires practical, present day solutions to tackle the adverse impact it has triggered on the earth’s atmospheric temperature, weather pattern, and natural disasters. IPCC’s fifth assessment report (2013) states that the global averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data as calculated by a linear trend, shows a warming of 0.85 [0.65 to 1.06] °C, over the period 1880 to 2012.
During the Paris Accord - COP21 (2015), the parties agreed that developed and developing countries alike are required to limit their emissions to relatively safe levels, of 2C with an aspiration of 1.5C. Based on scientific evidence, an increase in the 2C threshold (a limit of safety) will result in frequent droughts, floods, and heatwaves across the globe, these changes will have catastrophic and irreversible impact on the Earth’s climate system. In India, a rise of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit in average daily temperatures leads to a 10 percent increase in the annual mortality rate. Even a single extra hot day leads to a noticeable jump in mortality. In the U.S, a single day above 90 degrees increases the monthly mortality rate by more than 1 percent, according to research by Olivier Deschenes and other economists (2016).
The scientific evidence brought out by the first IPCC Assessment Report of 1990 underlined the importance of climate change as a challenge requiring international cooperation to tackle its consequences. The IPCC Second Assessment Report of 1995 provided important scientific material drawn on by negotiators in the run-up to adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. The Third Assessment Report came out in 2001 and the Fourth in 2007, that paid greater attention to the integration of climate change with sustainable development policies and relationships between mitigation and adaptation. The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) provides a clear and up to date view of the current state of scientific knowledge relevant to climate change.
The Sixth Assessment Report is expected to be finalised in 2022 in time for the global stock take foreseen under the UNFCCC Paris Agreement. Collectively we have five years to report progress on the Paris Accord – to find innovative solutions to adapt to climate change, to build resilient cities and economies, to lower carbon emissions and find alternate reliable and efficient energy, to collaborate and transfer knowledge and technology, to build awareness and change scenarios. The time is opportune to bring all stakeholders together to find solutions in reducing CO2 emissions and the stress imposed by climate change. The sustainable city index 2016 also urges that in order to improve city’s sustainability, leaders are encouraged to put people at the heart of their plans and use the index to help them to compare and learn from similar cities across the world.
Thus, investment in media literacy will be an important strategy in future for Improving Public Acceptance of Climate Change. Experts believe that without public trust on facts presented under the climate change science, policymaking in a democratic society cannot address the serious threats that we face. Climate change poses serious threats to urban population, particularly the poor living in slums and low lying areas. With their wasteful use of resources and through their specific consumption patterns, citizens across the globe add to the stress the environment faces. Citizens thus are the instruments through which local, regional and international plans on mitigating climate change can be achieved.
Role of Citizens
Climate change is considered as one of the most urgent issues facing humankind today. While much of mitigation policy is negotiated at an institutional, structural and international level, individuals’ views and actions still play a decisive role in supporting or destabilising overall efforts to cope with a changing climate. Media are crucial for shaping the public’s beliefs and attitudes about climate change, as first-hand scientific information is difficult or impossible to attain for the average citizen.
The consumption pattern has direct influence on climate change as the increase in per capita consumption can result in unprecedented stresses on the environment. Four times as populated as the US, India’s energy consumption is one fourth that of United States (Population Reference Bureau; 2012 World Population Data Sheet). However, Third largest total energy consuming nation, India along with China are seen as the fastest growing economies with high energy burden on the world available resources. According the global consumption database by World Bank 4.5 billion low-income people in developing countries collectively spend more than $5 trillion a year. It says that the lower consumption segments spend more than the middle and higher consumption segments combined. Consumption data suggest the scale of markets in low-income communities. The market for energy in the lower consumption segments is significantly larger than the market in the middle and higher segments combined. Thus, it is very important to find low cost solutions to fulfil the future (and existing) energy demand of the low-income communities across developing countries.
It is a well-known fact that the fastest-growing fuel is the dirtiest, coal. As the International Energy Agency states (2014), “Coal use has never stopped increasing and the forecasts indicate that, unless a dramatic policy action occurs, this trend will continue in the future.” India, has pledged to increase renewable power capacity by 5 times to its current capacity till 2022. This is envisaged by doubling of India's large wind power capacity and an almost 15 fold increase in solar power from April 2016 levels.
It is acknowledged globally to mitigate Climate Change with local actions and supplement the national and international policies on low carbon growth. To decarbonise the current energy infrastructure of India - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle is one of the simplest solution which can be adopted at the household level to decrease the stress on the scarce resources. In addition, increasing the percentage of Renewable Energy from 29.9 per cent to at least 60 per cent through off-grid solutions will help lower the burden on fossil fuel. According to the figures released recently by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, India’s current RE contribution stands at 44.812 GW which needs to grow to 175 GW of renewable power by 2022 (as per MNRE targets, 2016).
Disclaimer: The blog represents the views and opinions of the author. IPE CKD does not take responsibility for the views expressed in the blog