The climate meet Climate Change Conference (COP 26) is galore of promises as desertification theworld over increases. The meet is less on concrete terms to bring down temperature but high on verbose.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has struck the right issue. He has taken time till 2070 so that India development is not smothered bythe reticence of the developed world. He says that the commitment to climate hasa cost and the richnations are not meeting out their pledge of providing $ 100 billion a year to developing nations by 2020 as agreed at the climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009. The target has not yet been met.
Nations like Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia on the other hand are asking the UN to playdownthe need to more rapidly fromfossil fuels. The Inter- Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that 32000 submissions have been made by governments, companies and other interested parties to dilute the issues of fossil fuel.
They are arguing that that the world does not need to reduce the use of fossil fuels as quickly as the current draft of the report recommends. A West Asian country oil ministry has sought removal of phrases like the need for urgent and accelerated mitigation actions at all scales. The issue of temperature reduction by 2 degrees widely talked may remain on paper as they press for slower action and cutting temperature limit reduced to 1.5 degrees.
Australia does not accept the conclusion that closing coal-fired thermal power plants are necessary, even though the COP26 objective is to end the use of coal that adds to the problem of green house effect. OPEC also asks the IPCC to delete lobby activism. It would protect rent extracting business models. Saudi Arabia wants deletion of the UN conclusion that the focus of decarbonisation efforts inthe energy sector needs to move rapidly to zero-carbon sources and actively phasing out fossil fuels.
Many developing countries are not comfortable with the zero emission. Argentina, Norway and OPEC also challenge the contention. Norway wants the UN scientists to allow the possibility of capture and storage (CCS) as a potential tool for reducing emissions from fossil fuels. Even India had to resort to larger coalprospecting as its power system was reportedly coming to a critical stage and it had to keep the thermal power plants running.
The draft report accepts carbon could play a role in the future but says there are uncertainties about its feasibility. The CCS emerges as a vague term for continuing with the fossil fuel.
In 2015, Paris Agreement stressed the need for limiting temperature below 2 degreeto 1.5 degree celcius before 2100. India and China’s
commitment has increased hopes that zero emission is possible by 2070 but that again does not remain a certainty.
The globe is warming up faster. The climate change is affecting rainfall patterns and warmer atmosphere can lead to more rainfal in some areas and drought in many others. It is expected to increase global poverty as water inexcess or shortage would play havoc with humandevelopment.
The global area of dry lands is expected to expand as the climate warms. Various projections on emission scenarios indicate arid lands will increase by 11 to 23 percent compared a 30 year period of 1961 to 1990. This means that dry lands could be 50 to 56 percent of the earth’s land surface, a 38 percent rise, by 2021. The arid regions will expand over southwest of North America, north and southAfrica and Australia, the Mediterranean and South America.
Now at Glasgow COP 26, Australia and 123 other countries signed an agreement to end deforestation by 2030. There have been many such declarations before. Such policies have to be adopted by different countries at the domestic level. If these are not implemented due to domestic political pressure such declarations would have little impact.
India never reneges on such commitment but there are various lobbies that are on reckless constructions in the Himalayas and other sensitive zones leading to serious crisis. About 97.85 million hectares (29.7 percent) of India’s total geographical area (TGA) of 328.72 mha underwent land
degradation during 2018-19. In
2003-05, 94.53 mha (28.76 percent of the TGA) underwent land degradation. The number increased to 96.40 mha (29.32 percent of the TGA) in 2011-13.
About 83.69 mha underwent desertification in2018-19. This was greater than the 81.48 mha in 2003- 2005 and 82.64 mha in2011-13 that were . India witnessed an increase in desertification in 28 of 31 states and Union territories between2011- 13 and 2018-19.
Forest covers are dwindling all over Asia and various Indian states too areamendingtheir laws for increased “developmental activities” across. Tree felling and water erosion also is causing heavy erosion as construction activities are increasing. The Centre’s commitment and the states’ priorities often clash and the latter play havoc at the ground level.
A McGill paper has found that more airport constructions would have environmental problem, increase warming and other ecological problems. But since these have become symbols of fast development without studies across, India and many other countries construct more airports. Each adds to environmental degeneration. Recently in UP and the hilly states a number of airports are being constructed to “better” connectivity. Man’s greed cause Kedarnath tragedy and repeated Himlayan landslides. there is more propaganda than demonstrative action.
The IPCC says that various climate models suggest that rainfall will be more intense for almost the entire world, potentialy increasingthe risks of soil erosion. Projections indicate that most of the world will see a 16 to 24 percent increase in heavy precipitation intensity by 2100.
Director of research, Grantham Institute at Imperial College, London, Joeri Rogelji, says that pledges at climate meets are not sufficient to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and COP 26 still has an important task. For the temperature controlthe pledges need to turn to action. But, he says, those pledges do not match the ambitions.
The International Energy Agency is unhappy with what the governments are trying to show. The governments need to have clear and credible policy, it says. Ambitions count for little if they are not implemented successfully. Would COP remain as another paper?