Environment and Climate Change are critical Issues that requires continuous Efforts


Environment and Climate Change are critical Issues that requires continuous Efforts:

In the United States of America, Climate change has become the number one topic, eclipsing all other major issues. It has also become the top polarizing issue.

Back in India, one does not hear much about climate change discussions in the society. The ministry of environment and forest bought out a briefing paper that outlines, India’s progress in combating climate change ( http://envfor.nic.in/sites/default/files/press-releases/Indian_Country_Paper_Low_Res.pdf) . The ministry is led by honourable minister Shri Prakash Javdekar.

The next UNFCCC COP 21 (Conference of Parties) is slated from November 30 to December 11 in Paris. The meet is going to be very important as the simultaneous negotiations are expected to deliver an agreement to facilitate reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, which is necessary to control climate changes.

The ministry of Environment, forest and climate change is one of the most important ministry in the present times. The entire gamut of burning issues that are highly linked to our common human existence can be found here. If there is no proper framework and interest in tacking environmental issues than it could lead to serious problems. Therefore the ministry must not look only towards the COP 21 summit but also regard all the issues as inherent and important. Today air quality and environmental issues have become a major issue with the quality of air going down by the day. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) is still fighting to ban heavy and old vehicles in the city.

Meanwhile The United States is deeply divided on the issue and the issue has become a major political thorn between the Republicans and The Democrats. Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s climate arm, reported that scientists are more than 95 percent certain that the primary cause of global warming is human activity. The United Nations warned had also last year, said that the world is rapidly running out of time to act on climate change, U.S. political gridlock is more dangerous than ever, and exists on a grander scale because the nation’s failure to act on climate directly impacts the rest of the world. In 2013, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere actually increased at the fastest rate in nearly three decades, with the U.S. contributing nearly a seventh of the total amount

The climate agreement currently under negotiation which is likely to be finalised in COP 21 in Paris envisages a bottom up approach. Under the scheme all the countries ( and not just annex-1) will decide their fair quota in the fight against climate change through an instrument called INDC or Intended Nationality Determined Contributions. All-though India falls under the non annex countries it is not expected to engage in mitigation activities but in adaptation.

While the country indeed has a National action plan based upon mitigation activities ( http://www.moef.nic.in/downloads/home/Pg01-52.pdf ). But it will inssit to work within the framework of CBDR ( Common But Differentiated Responsibilities) or differentiation policy Thus the Indian policy hinges upon a 2 percent cut in carbon emissions by the developed countries while also demanding finance and technology help from them. Going by the frenzied debates in the US one can expect some high moments in COP 21 in Paris.

IN one other development a new report has come out that predicts that the world will go all nuclear supplied power in the near future. In just two decades Sweden went from burning oil for generating electricity to fissioning uranium. And if the world as a whole were to follow that example, all fossil fuel–fired power plants could be replaced with nuclear facilities in a little over 30 years. That’s the conclusion of a new nuclear grand plan published May 13 inPLoS One.

If this becomes a reality, indeed, such a switch would drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nearly achieving much-ballyhooed global goals to combat climate change. Even swelling electricity demands, concentrated in developing nations, could be met.

The Swedes began research to build nuclear reactors in 1962 in a bid to wean the country off burning oil for power as well as to protect rivers from hydroelectric dams. By 1972, the first boiling water reactor at Oskarshamn began tohost fission and churn out electricity. The cost was roughly $1,400 per kilowatt of electric capacity (in 2005 dollars), which is cheap compared to the $7,000 per kilowatt of electric capacity of two new advanced nuclear reactors being built in the U.S. right now. By 1986, with the addition of 11 more reactors, half of Sweden’s electricity came from nuclear power and carbon dioxide emissions per Swede had dropped by 75 percent compared to the peak in 1970.

France, a larger nation, has a similar nuclear tale to tell, weaning itself from imported fossil fuels by building 59 nuclear reactors in the 1970s and 1980s that produce roughly 80 percent of the nation’s electricity needs today.

If that has to happen, than, all that would be required for the Chinas, Indias and U.S.s of the world to emulate these two nuclear pioneers is “political will, strategic economic planning, and public acceptance.

Requirements for this shift of course would include expanded uranium mining and processing, a build-out of the electric grid as well as a commitment to develop and build fast reactors—nuclear technology that operates with faster neutrons and therefore can handle radioactive waste, such as plutonium, for fuel as well as create its own future fuel.

However such a case looks less probable as the design safety issues remain high on all nuclear powered projects.

One of the major bottleneck for the Make in India mission to become a reality is the power shortage problems in the country. Therefore it is essential that the country looks for alternate source of power on a large scale. Solar power has been identified as a critical solution but it will not suffice.

Therefore the ministry of Environment , Forest and climate change has many tasks on its hands. It has to certainly expedite policy decisions especially on critical issues and maintain the momentum. Only than the country will be able to fulfill its commitments of growth and development.

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Asheesh Shah
Author: Asheesh Shah

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