Facing the climate emergency (The
Mains Paper 3: Environment
Prelims level: Climate emergency
Mains level: Climate emergency and its solution
- Already wealthy countries have become wealthier and developing countries
have been made poorer in relative terms during this time.
- India’s GDP growth penalty between 1961 and 2010 is in the order of 31%
for the period, whereas Norway gained about 34% on a per capita basis.
- More recently, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has reported that, worldwide, the
abundance of species has reduced by at least one-fifth, about a million
species are under threat of extinction in the next few decades and 85% of
wetlands have been lost.
Instances of collusion
- Moreover, are numerous instances of elite networks that are taking
advantage of the situation to consolidate their control.
- These networks often involve governments actively or quiescently
colluding with fossil fuel companies, agro-industrial elites, financial
elites and other big businesses that are ignoring climate change and making
a fast buck often even from the growing disasters.
- The International Monetary Fund estimates in a recent working paper that
fossil fuel subsidies were $4.7 trillion in 2015 and estimated to be $5.2
trillion in 2017.
- It goes on to say that efficient fossil fuel pricing would have reduced
global carbon emissions by 28%.
- The Arctic is melting rapidly and the tenor of the recent discussions
among Arctic countries suggests that even as increasing glacier melt is
responsible for opening up shipping in the area, superpowers are angling to
access wealth from the oil, gas, uranium and precious metals in the region.
What needs to be done?
- While this kind of corruption may not be new, various versions of this
are played out in other countries. Governments’ corporate cronies and
plundering elites, of course, need not be foreign.
- Environmental laws can be broken by old boys’ networks with impunity as
penalties are cancelled by a party in control.
- It is the poorest and those without access to power who become victims
of the fallout from these situations.
- Another recent example is the draft Indian Forest Act of 2019, which
enhances the political and police power of the forest department and
curtails the rights of millions of forest dwellers.
Ear to the ground
- Policies and commitments make it clear that most governments and
businesses are not interested in dealing with the climate and ecological
- They will certainly not give these the central attention they deserve in
these times of an emergency; they barely even acknowledge them.
- Luckily, what we are witnessing is a large-scale movement for “planet
emergency”, climate and ecology. Greta Thunberg has been leading this among
school-going children, an Extinction Rebellion has been organising “die-ins”
in many parts of Europe and now in Asia.
- Their non-violent civil disobedience is just what is needed and it is
indeed inspiring to see children and grandparents protest together. People’s
movements, whether made up of students or adults, cannot be ignored for long
and governments will have to pay attention.
- The atmosphere now has concentrations of over 415 parts per million (ppm)
of carbon dioxide, compared to 280 ppm in pre-industrial times.
- But then, fossil fuel companies and politicians have known about climate
change for at least 30 years.
- They have funded misinformation regarding climate directly, taking
lessons from tobacco companies that propagated lies for decades about
cigarettes being safe.
- The documentary film Merchants of Doubt describes how a handful of
scientists have obscured the truth on global warming so that business
profits can continue to flow.
- The fossil fuel industry has also funded politicians, so their words and
laws are already bought.
- The only solutions that governments and business are looking for are
those that enable them to carry on as before.
- But the planet is well past that point where small fixes can help take
us on a long path to zero carbon earth.
- We are now at a stage where we need major overhaul of our lifestyles and
patterns of consumption.
- The U.K. Parliament became the first recently to declare a climate
emergency. It remains to be seen if appropriate actions will follow this
- When a 16-year-old speaks with far greater clarity and conviction than
the thousands of dithering policy wonks who have been debating for over
three decades, we know the politics of the climate crisis must undergo a
Q.1) With reference to the recently held One Planet Summit, which of the
following statements is/are correct?
1. It focuses on climate investments in line with the Paris Agreement.
2. It is an initiative by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.
3. The 2019 summit was held in New Delhi.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 2 only
Q.1) The politics of the climate crisis needs a radical transformation
people’s movements are a spark of hope. Critically examine the statement.
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