New COP, new targets, newer opportunities for India to lower carbon emission

By Daljeet Kaur

New Delhi, Dec.18 (ANI): The recently concluded agreement at the 21st Conference of Parties, or COP21, has reinforced the need to collectively act towards meeting global emission targets.

The most ambitious global climate agreement signed in Paris, commits to hold the global average temperature to “well below 2°C” above pre-industrial levels and to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”. According to climate change experts the world needs to move off fossil fuels by 2050 to achieve the 2 degrees Celsius limit.

India, the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide after China and America, is an important player in meeting the target of zero net carbon emissions between 2030 and 2050.

India’s stand on common but differential responsibility, in the climate politics, was also seen in this Paris Conference. Despite this, we acknowledge that it has become imperative for India to take corrective measures and respond to the global call for local action to prevent a climate crisis.

In addition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of cutting carbon emissions by 2030 overall, the Delhi Government’s drive to reduce pollution level by introducing new measures in cutting down vehicular emissions comes at an opportune time. While several oppose to the proposed measure of allowing vehicles with odd and even number plates to ply only on alternate days, many intellectuals feel that introduction of such strict laws will help abate pollution which has increased beyond permissible limits in Delhi.

Amidst these debates, it is hard to side with one opinion as there is merit in the argument presented by both, for and against.

For such initiatives to be successful we not only need comfortable and reliable public transportation systems, but also stronger regulatory mechanisms.

The focus should be more on making an imperative shift from private to public transport rather than a forced transformation causing inconvenience to the public. The change needs to be brought over time, thus there is a need to focus on editing people’s choices toward a certain lifestyle. In another words, shifting consumer values from ownership to access.

At the same time, the government can adopt simpler drivers of change like introducing higher congestion taxes during peak hours, providing incentives to company adopting flexi hours for their employees, encouraging car pool by disallowing single passenger/driver car during office hours, well-connected & comfortable Public transport system. In most European countries, this drive of choice editing has been termed as “pay-as-you-live” lifestyle, which adopts renting, sharing, gifting as a means to reduce per capita consumption.

Global civilisation has completed a full circle, with reduced resources, decision makers have to now reverse the growth curve. The continual demand for economic growth has always prompted countries to draft lenient environmental policies, much like how the critiques of Paris conference and the environmental activists’ world over, are describing the COP21 agreement.

When our solutions to abate climate change or protect the Earth’s finite resources end with either development or growth, the failure is confirmed. We live on a finite planet with finite resources and one cannot envisage development without exploiting resource. Green Growth or Sustainable Development are incompatible as the world runs on a capitalist’s economy promoting higher consumption every year. Thus, it is more imperative to change the mindset than to change the language of the final Climate Deal.

For India, the rising consumerism could make achieving carbon targets difficult unless we take immediate and necessary steps in reducing our energy consumption which is increasing at a very high rate as compared to other emerging economies.

Harnessing renewable energy and shifting dependency from fossil fuel to solar power has been the focus of the national Action Plan on Climate Change. The Solar Mission makes use of India’s long-term solar potential which is unparalleled in the world.

The problem we face today may not have a simple solution but a combination of many solutions. Decisions makers as well as citizens, globally, have a vital role to play in reducing climate stress & environmental hazards simply by being informed and responsible. A way forward would be to adopt simple, innovative measures which necessarily only promotes lifestyle changes, especially from the rich in both the developing and the developed world. The perpetual pursuit of growth, which at present is individualistic, needs to be carried more collective to help achieve outcomes desired.

The views expressed in the above article are that of Daljeet Kaur, Associate Director, IPE Global, an international development consulting group. (ANI)

Related Posts

Leave a Reply