Understanding Climate Change
Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities. Global climate change has already resulted in a wide range of impacts across every region of the country and many sectors of the economy that are expected to grow in the coming decades.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations, dedicated to providing the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change, its natural, political and economic impacts and risks, and possible response options. Climate change in IPCC usage refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g. using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer.
What’s happening & Why?
Thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world have documented increases in temperature at Earth’s surface, as well as in the atmosphere and oceans. Many other aspects of global climate are changing as well. Human activities, especially emissions of heat trapping greenhouse gases from fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, and land-use change, are the primary driver of the climate changes observed in the industrial era. Impacts related to climate change are evident across regions and in many sectors important to society—such as human health, agriculture and food security, water supply, transportation, energy, ecosystems, and others—and are expected to become increasingly disruptive in the coming decades.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The UN family is in the forefront of the effort to save our planet. In 1992, its “Earth Summit” produced the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a first step in addressing the climate change problem. Today, it has near-universal membership. The 197 countries that have ratified the Convention are Parties to the Convention. The ultimate objective of the Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would not jeopardize climate.
By 1995, countries launched negotiations to strengthen the global response to climate change, and, two years later, adopted the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol legally binds developed country Parties to emission reduction targets. The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012. The second commitment period began on 1st January 2013 and will end in 2020. There are now 197 Parties to the Convention and 192 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
At the 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris in 2015, Parties to the UNFCCC reached a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. The Paris Agreement builds upon the Convention and – for the first time – brings all nations into a common cause to undertake take ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. As such, it charts a new course in the global climate effort.
The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Climate Change in India
India is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change. It has one of the highest densities of economic activity in the world, and very large numbers of poor people who rely on the natural resource base for their livelihoods, with a high dependence on rainfall. By 2020, pressure on India’s water, air, soil, and forests is expected to become the highest in the world.
On 30th June 2008, the Government of India launched National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) outlining eight National Missions on climate change. These include:
1. National Solar Mission
2. National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency
3. National Mission on Sustainable Habitat
4. National Water Mission
5. National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Eco-system
6. National Mission for a Green India
7. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture
8. National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change
The goals pertaining to climate change which were included in this plan are-
- Reduce emissions intensity in line with India’s Copenhagen pledge; and
- Add 300,000 MW of renewable energy capacity.
With the formulation of the NAPCC, the need to achieve coherence between actions at national and sub-national level became apparent. Therefore, the Ministry motivated the State Governments to prepare their State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCC) in line with the strategies outlined in NAPCC in 2009. State governments have drafted climate strategies aligned with the eight National Missions under the NAPCC. The most recent strategies cover the period 2015-2020 and focus on issues ranging from climate mitigation, energy efficiency, and resource conservation to climate adaptation.
Although tackling climate change was already a responsibility of the ministry, its priority was raised when in May 2014 the ministry was renamed to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. In January 2017, the newly reconstituted Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change launched new initiatives on coastal zone management, wind energy, health and waste-to-energy. The Climate Change Division looks after the issues related to climate change, including the International negotiations and domestic policies and actions. The Division is also responsible for submission of National Communications (NATCOMs) and the Biennial Update Reports (BURS) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is the nodal Ministry for climate change negotiations under UNFCCC. In order to create and strengthen the scientific and analytical capacity for assessment of climate change in the country, different studies have been initiated under the Climate Change Action Programme (CCAP), including National Carbonaceous Aerosols Programme (NCAP), Long Term Ecological Observatories (LTEO) Programme, and GHG.
To know more about Climate Change Action in India click below link: http://moef.gov.in/environment/climate-change/