Introduction

Where does India stand in the process of contributing to the climate change phenomenon?

In August 2021, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC released a report to which the UN referred to as the “red code for humanity”. The report elucidated the amount of warming and the natural calamities we would have to face in the coming decade. While climate change has been realized as an established international cause of concern. Perhaps, it’s time to discuss the impact and trends of climate change on the Indian subcontinent. India a young country, saw rapid industrialization in the past century. Fuelled by the rapid growth of the Indian economy and increase in technology a number of industries took form. While the country boasts of a powerful industry and workforce there remains a number of overlooked angles to the bigger picture.

Currently valued at $2.651 trillion, India accounts for the 5th largest GDP. Without a doubt, India is seeing its phase of rapid development and while continues to do so. While we talk about industry and growth, what about the contribution India has to the “climate change” phenomena. This blog discusses where India stands in the process of contributing to the climate change phenomenon.

India and its contribution to climate change:

The frequency of extreme weather events has grown more common over the Indian region. Global warming and climate change as a whole are viable for this change. In the last 200 years, it is calculated that India contributed to “3%” of the global change in the climate. While this may not seem a lot it is mainly because India is a new and developing nation. The majority of the Indian population is rural and still thrives on conventional means of life. Devoid of technology and electricity the rural population lives a natural life. Urban and industrial India meanwhile has a not-so-friendly approach to nature. India accounts for around 3 gigatons of CO2 emissions annually. Greenhouse effects and acid rain have become a common occurrence. India is vulnerable to climate change just as any other country.

Climate Change; a looming disaster:

While the climate change trends a grim picture all across the globe, the trends over the Indian sub-continent aren’t any better. Owing to rapid industrialization and exploitation of the resource-rich land the region is in utter disbalance. The energy equation of this whole region is in disarray as new irregularities are being found out every year.

Erratic monsoon and a confused ballad of clouds:

It’s without a doubt that India is an agrarian economy. That is India depends heavily on its farmers and the national agriculture industry. Not only does this industry feed the people but is one of the most important contributors to its GDP. India while heavily dependent on monsoon cannot even now predict the behaviour of this season. Monsoon and the seasonal rainfalls once a farmer’s delight have now become a curse.

Erratic monsoon and a confused ballad of clouds

Years of greenhouse emissions have caused the monsoons to take an erratic route. The expected rainfalls around the normal June-September period have declined dramatically by 6%. Over the period from 1951-2015, this decline has been monitored carefully. The radiative effect of aerosol and greenhouse emissions has offset the summer monsoon precipitation. Extremities have become more common over the years with wetter and shorter rains becoming more common. There has been a relative shift towards frequent dry spells (27% higher in 1981-2011 than 1950-1981). While these are predicted to worsen as climate change will only continue to worsen.

Droughts; The parched lands:

Droughts hits India

With dry spells of monsoon becoming more frequent the soil has evidently become parched and dry. India blessed with its abundance of arable lands depends significantly on these lands. The last 6-7 decades saw a decrease in the important summer monsoon precipitation. India without a doubt is losing its arable lands to droughts as the rainfall continues to sparse.

The average area affected by droughts in the region has increased by 1.3% per decade. The figures from 1951-2016 highlight an increase in the extent and frequency of droughts. Some regions like central and North-Eastern India have experienced almost 2 droughts per decade. These figures are only predicted to get worse in the coming decades. The area affected by droughts is set to increase to >2% in the next decade as well as an increase in severity. In an agrarian economy, the nation is set to suffer due to these changes. Likely causes stem around erratic monsoons and overuse of green revolution methods.

Rising temperatures; The burning sub-continent:

The global rise in temperature has been calculated at 1°C since the pre-industrialization era. This extent and rate of rising in temperature cannot be explained by natural variations. Years of deposit of greenhouse gases have caused a major chain of the greenhouse effect. This effect is big enough to offset the natural energy equation of our planet. The energy being trapped by this greenhouse effect is directly increasing the heat captured by our atmosphere.

The greenhouse effect over the Indian sub-continent is not far behind the global situation. The average temperature from 1901 to 2018 has increased by 0.7°C. The frequency of warmer days and warmer nights has increased evidently as well. These effects are viably present and can be experienced nowadays by people. In fact, the frequency of warmer days is night and days are projected to increase by a whopping 55-70%. Whereas it is estimated that by the end of the century the average rise in temperature will be around 4.4°C. The main cause for this rise in temperature is credited to the global warming effect.

Rise in sea-levels; engulfing seas:

Rising sea-levels are one of the poster effects climate change world-wide. The Indian coast without a surprise is in no way safe from this phenomenon. India is blessed with a long and bountiful coastline. Bordered by the Bay of Bengal and The Arabian Sea it also lay claims over the mighty Indian Ocean. The long coastline also means the worse the effects of an increase in sea level would cause. The North Indian Ocean has seen a dramatic rise in temperature. From the already alarm rate of 1.06-1.75mm per year during 1874-2006. It has risen exponentially to 3.3 mm per year in just two recent decades. At the end of the 21st century, the rise in sea level will be a grave cause for Indian cities and coastal assets.

Rise in sea-levels - engulfing seas

References:

Climate Change; A close call:

Indian National Flag - Tricolour

Without a doubt, it is no more a surprise that India is vulnerable to climate change. While the trends don’t seem to be in our favor, the fight has only begun. The country has awakened from its slumber of ignorance and has begun damage control. India is a big country and change takes a long time to actually become relevant. The damage done is going to be visible in the coming years. Mitigation and immediate steps are being taken to reduce these effects.

Some of the steps taken by the Indian government to fight climate change are:

  • Installing household and community clean energy units like solar or biogas.
  • Replacing conventional wood-burning stoves in rural areas with cooking gas. This is garnering support on a large scale under government schemes.
  • Providing solar-powered lighting and systems all around the country. Switching to LED bulbs is of major importance.
  • Promoting scientifically and economically sound climate-smart farming techniques through use of information technology platforms like smart-phone apps. Reducing dependency on over used farming techniques spread during green revolution.
  • Cleaning of rivers and new strict laws are being put up to stop contamination. The amount of potable water is decreasing and becoming more important.

Conclusion:

The next few decades will be the most important and the turning point for the country. The fight has just begun for the Indian sub-continent and its people. The battle against climate change will define the future of this country.

read about the global condition of climate change: Climate change and its 4 examples

 

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