The ‘Twelfth Night’ Revisited In A Fortnight?
Glasgow, the most populous city in Scotland, hosted the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP26, from October 31 to November 13. It was the 26th UN Climate Change Conference that was held at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) Centre. The first such conference was held in Germany in 1995. This year, world leaders delivered lengthy speeches in the presence of more than 25,000 delegates in those 14 days. It may be noted that the majority of the Indians did not know much about their Agriculture Minister before the beginning of the Farmers’ Protests. Similarly, they came to know that there was an Environment Minister in India only after the Glasgow Conference! Upon his arrival in New Delhi from Glasgow, Indian Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav said that India had unequivocally represented the Developing Nations in this successful conference. The main proposal of the conference was that all countries would eliminate the use of Fossil Fuels, together. At the final moment, India announced that it would reduce, and not eliminate, the use of Fossil Fuels.
Indeed, it has been a great success! That is what Greta Thunberg presumably termed “Blah, blah, blah“.
Speaking at the Glasgow Climate Change Conference, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised that his country’s carbon emissions would come down to zero by 2070! In his inaugural address, Prime Minister Modi said that India, despite being a Developing Country, was a pioneer in its fight against Climate Change. At the same time, he told the audience that as a Developing Nation, India could not afford to give up the use of relatively cheap coal or fossil fuels. In other words, India wants to phase down the usage of coal, and not phase out.
Although only 15% of the world’s population lives in the US, Russia, Britain, Australia, Canada and the European Union (EU), these countries emit about 70% of carbon dioxide and methane, polluting the environment. Britain, China, India, Russia, and the US have huge manufacturing and industrial sectors. The energy, required to boost the industry, comes mainly from the burning of coal or fossil fuels. Hence, these countries emit maximum amount of carbon.
Keeping in mind this scenario, the Indian Prime Minister’s announcement is an ambitious one, as it is nearly impossible for India to achieve this target because the Government would have to reform the energy sector in the next few years. This is a huge challenge. Then, India would have to generate power based on solar, wind, nuclear plant, and green hydrogen; instead of relying on coal and petroleum products. In other words, conventional structures of the energy sector would have to be replaced with environment-friendly facilities. For this, the Government and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) have to invest a huge amount of money in research and development, and to stop coal-based production by the end of 2040.
Meanwhile, millions of Indians depend on coal for their livelihood. Hence, the transition is virtually impossible, without making alternative arrangements for those people. Of course, Developed Nations, like China, the US, Germany, etc., should take more responsibility in preventing emission. Although India is the third largest polluter, it is undoubtedly poorer than those developed countries. So, it would not be that easy for India to take such a huge responsibility of pollution control. Other major polluters, like China, the US, Germany and Brazil, should play a greater role in this regard.
Developing Nations need to be provided with advanced technology and infrastructure to use solar, wind, hydropower or nuclear energy as an alternative to conventional energy. The Developed Nations had agreed to create a large fund at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference for helping the Developing Nations get accustomed to the use of unconventional energy. Unfortunately, they are yet to create the fund. So, the Global Community should not depend on States, as far as Climate Protection is concerned; instead, people should take initiatives for lowering the carbon emissions and also for producing less methane gas from plastic waste. They would have to do a lot of afforestation in order to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment.
The current level of Global Warming is enough to melt the ice, with the world losing its liveability. If the International Community fails to limit Global Warming to 1.5˚C, the water levels of seas and rivers will rise due to the melting of ice in mountains and polar regions. As a result, coastal cities or towns across the globe will be in great danger. The whimsical behaviour of Nature would badly affect the poor and marginalised people. Therefore, each and every country needs to prepare a fool-proof plan, while keeping the interests of the poor in mind, in order to cope with Global Warming. Everyone should be aware of the situation, and should try their best to keep the environment clean. Only a pollution-free environment can prevent Global Warming.
It may be noted that the stored coal in Deucha Panchami mine in eastern Indian Province of West Bengal‘s Birbhum District, is the largest not only in India, but also in Asia. Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, recently expressed hope that the Deucha Panchami coal block would boost the Provincial Economy in near future. Unfortunately, the Indian politicians, like Banerjee, are not at all worried about the environment. It seems that they are also not interested in protecting the environment. There exists more than quite a gap between the commitments made in Glasgow and ground realities in India.
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