Climate changes’ definition can be a broad term that encompasses long-term variations in temperature and weather patterns. These movements could be natural due to differences in the solar cycle. However, human actions have been the primary cause of climate change since the 1800s, mainly owing to the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. Climate change was recently seen in several cities in India, including Delhi, Hyderabad, and Chennai, which faced a water crisis and were forced to rely on alternate water supplies such as remote, unreliable public water pumps and expensive private water tankers.
What is climate change?
The temperature of the Earth is influenced by the energy that enters and exits the planet’s atmosphere. The Earth gets warmed as solar energy is absorbed by the Earth . Earth cools when the sun’s energy is dispersed back into space. Both natural and man-made variables have the potential to alter the Earth’s energy balance.
The rate of climate change is determined by the underlying causal factors. This may occur gradually or fast, in part or in full, over a short or long period, on a regional or global scale. During the Jurassic Period, climate change, which resulted in the extinction of the dinosaurs due to the abrupt introduction of the cold climate, was swift and instantaneous.
Numerous natural factors can affect the Earth’s climate. Ocean currents, continental drift, volcanoes, the Earth’s tilt, comets and meteorites are a few examples.
- The drift of the continents
The continents as we know them now did not exist 200 million years ago. Instead, they developed millions of years ago when the landmass ‘Pangaea’ began progressively drifting apart owing to plate displacement. This drift also affected the climate, as it altered the physical characteristics of the landmass, its position, and the position of water bodies, altering the movement of ocean currents and winds, which affected the climate.
Today, the drift process continues; the Himalayan range rises by around 1 mm (millimetre) per year as the Indian landmass slowly but steadily approaches the Asian landmass.
- Variation in the orbit of the Earth
The distribution of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface is directly tied to the Earth’s orbit. A little change in the Earth’s orbit results in a change in the seasonal distribution across the world. There are very few fluctuations in the annual average of sunshine. Still, significant changes in the regional and seasonal distribution can occur.
There are three forms of orbital fluctuations: variations in the eccentricity of the Earth, variations in the tilt angle of the Earth’s rotational axis, and precession of the Earth’s axis. When these factors combine, they form Milankovitch cycles, which significantly affect climate and are recognized for their link with glacial and interglacial eras. According to the IPCC, Milankovitch cycles were responsible for ice age cycles.
India and Climate Change
One of the Strongest Emitters: India, the world’s third-largest carbon emitter behind China and the United States, must make a major shift away from extremely damaging coal and petroleum and toward cleaner, renewable energy sources.
China has set a carbon neutrality target by 2060, Japan and South Korea have set a carbon neutrality target by 2050, while India has announced that it expects to become carbon neutral by 2070.
Rankings and Estimates on a Global Scale:
India is ranked first among 67 countries by HSBC in climate vulnerability (2018), while Germanwatch rates India sixth among 181 countries in terms of climate hazards (2020).
The World Bank recently warned that climate change could significantly worsen living circumstances for up to 800 million people in South Asia.
According to the Emissions Gap Report 2020, China, the United States, the EU27+UK, and India collectively accounted for 55% of total GHG emissions over the last decade.
India’s Climate Change Response
The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) summarises current and future policies and activities to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The Action Plan specifies eight critical “national missions” for the period between now and 2017: Solar Energy; Energy Efficiency; Sustainable Habitat; Water; Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem; Green India; Sustainable Agriculture; and Climate Change Strategic Knowledge.
Pledges that India took in Paris Agreement:
- By 2030, India’s greenhouse emissions intensity as a percentage of GDP will be cut by 33-35 per cent from 2005 levels.
- Additionally, 40% of India’s electricity capacity would be non-fossil fuel-based.
- Simultaneously, India will increase its ‘carbon sink’ by 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030 through increased forest and tree cover.
India and France inaugurated the International Solar Alliance (ISA) during the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on 30 November 2015, with Mr Ban Ki Moon, former United Nations Secretary-General.
Bharat Stage (BS) Emission Standards: Vehicle emissions are a significant source of air pollution, which prompted the government to create the BS 2000 (Bharat Stage 1) vehicle emission standards in April 2000, followed by BS-II in 2005. In 2010, the BS-III standard was deployed nationwide. In 2016, the government followed worldwide best practices and forwent BS V entirely to comply with BS-VI standards.
The periodic change in Earth’s atmosphere, which results in unpredictable weather patterns and temperature rise, is termed climate change. However, these movements could be natural due to differences in the solar cycle.