The recent unpredictable weather patterns that have occurred in India have sparked questions about climate change and sustainable development in the region. The heatwave that occurred in India towards the end of May which came to an end in June claimed more than 2000 lives while heavy monsoon rains in August claimed more than 100 lives and left thousands of civilians displaced.
This goes back to the fact that India’s human activities have increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions thus contributing to global warming. The fact that India has some of the world’s most polluted cities in the world paints a grim story for the country and the region. The pollution of India’s cities is linked to its reliance on coal as a source of energy. There is currently no means of reducing this pollution, as coal consumption accounts for 44% of the country’s total energy consumption and biomass and oil account 22%.
Nonetheless, there is hope for India. In 2002, India signed to be part of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where participating countries committed to cutting emissions. Some industrialized countries were able to meet their targets set for specific dates; however India was not obliged to reduce its GHG production as it is a developing country. It is quite strange for a country that has the most polluted cities in the world to not have a set target to reduce its emissions. If India can follow the same model used by countries that were able to reduce their emissions, it can reduce its emissions.
Climate change is a global challenge and leaders are making an effort to tackle this problem. We are currently on the road to the Paris Summit, where 196 countries in December will meet to sign a new climate agreement; hopefully the agreement will favour emerging powers such as India and make it easier for them to abide by emission targets. It will also be vital for Indian leaders to pay attention to the recent Obama administration climate change plan. While the two countries are on different developmental levels, it can still serve as a lesson for India. In January 2015, The United States of America and India agreed to work together in fighting global climate change. The two countries also agreed to work closely for a successful agreement at the Paris Summit. The USA plays an important role in India’s fight for a ‘greener’ country.
The whole world is facing climate change but some countries (especially developing countries) feel the consequences of climate change the most because they have not contributed significantly to the causes of climate change, so it is the duty of industrialised countries that have caused much of the climate change to help developing countries adapt to changes. As emerging economies start to record the highest numbers of energy consumption, the battle gets even more difficult. The way forward involves implementing agreements made at summits and industrialized countries playing a leading role in tackling climate change and helping developing countries adapt to changes.