India has been one of the worst sufferers of increasing global temperatures, even though the country’s consumption of fossil fuels is well below that of the developed world, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said in a Facebook Live session on the World Environment Day on Monday.
Themed around US President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally pull out of Paris Agreement last week and its implications for India, the discussion featured CSE’s Director Sunita Narain and Deputy Director General Chandra Bhushan. Bhushan headed a team which compared year-on-year and seasonal temperature rise over the last 117 years. The New Delhi-based environmental thinktank said that such a study had never before been conducted in India. Here are 10 talking points that came up during the session:
1. According to CSE data, the winters have been growing consistently warmer in India, with temperatures in January and February this year registering an unprecedented increase of 2.95 degree Celsius, compared to a 2 degree increase last year. The Bhushan-led study kept the 30 years from 1901-30 as the base for their observations.
2. The study billed 1995 as the ‘tipping point’, saying that temperature had been increasing by a degree Celsius until 1995, after which temperatures started registering a higher increase. The Paris Agreement, signed by participating countries in April 2016, asks of the countries to try capping the global temperature rise at 1.5 degree Celsius.
3. While many of Donald Trump’s backers continue denying climate change as conspiracy theory, India has been reeling from its effects. CSE’s Director Sunita Narain pointed out that the ongoing drought afflicting South Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala was a symptom of climate change. Over 330 million people in the four states have been directly affected in what has been dubbed as one of the worst droughts in India in recent years.
4. “Climate change and extreme weather events are directly linked,” Narain declared. Citing events like the cloud burst in otherwise rain-starved Ladakh in 2010 and the excruciating heat wave across the country the same year, besides unprecedented winter temperature rise this year, Narain said that climate change was “very real and with us in India.”
5. The Paris Climate Deal won’t be successful, Narain said, “if the world’s largest economy continues to spew pollution.” Narain was scathing of Trump’s decision to pull US out of the Paris Deal, noting that consumption of fossil fuels in the US was more than that of other countries. “US accounts for 20% of carbon dioxide stock in the atmosphere,” she also pointed out.
6. Critiquing Trump’s reasons for pulling out of the deal, Narain argued that while US consumption of coal had been decreasing in recent years, it still used more of coal than other countries. “In US, overall coal usage has been declining due to discovery of shale gas. Coal clearly is not able to compete with shale,” Narain said. She added that the US had “hit a jackpot” in discovering shale gas.
7. Narain also declared that without the US, Paris Climate Deal would simply “fail.” “Without US’ money and technology, leapfrog (to clean energy) will not happen,” she said. She reckoned that EU and major developing countries like China, Brazil and India would have to assume leadership roles to save whatever they could of the Paris Accord.
8. Trump’s withdrawal from the deal could have “major and deadly implications for the planet, more so for India which is seeing deadly climate,” Narain said. She highlighted that India would have to invest even more money in developing its renewables. “India has already been investing billions of dollars in making its farmers adapt to clean energy, with little outside aid. But the foreign aid could dry up even more in the wake of Trump’s decision last week,” she said.
9. Noting that India’s position in Paris Deal was “clear,” Narain reckoned that India’s efforts at tackling climate change would start bearing fruit after 2030. “The real difference will happen after 2030,” she said.
10. Narain said that solar power held great promise in India, noting that prices of solar power would further go down. “The solar power sector in India, like shale gas in the US, would be able to produce cheap energy,” she said.