Time running out to address climate change

B K Chandrashekar, chairman, Bangalore Climate Change Initiative, Nicholas Stern of London School of Economics and Mattia Romani from South Korea at a workshop in Bangalore. dh photo

He was speaking at a workshop on ‘Climate Change and Karnataka: Low Carbon Development Path and Adaptation - Twin Strategy,’ on Saturday. Stern underlined the need for scientific backing of data to convey to the policy makers the necessity to have environment-friendly policies, while pursuing the path of development and growth.

“We should be thinking about how rapidly we can get results to inform the policy makers. The world does not wait for results,” he said.

He said China, which recently released its 12th five year plan, had stressed on growth driven by consumer consumption, innovation and low carbon growth. “They are deeply worried about climate change. They know they are vulnerable to whatever happens in the Himalayas. This is a new approach to energy,” he remarked.

On Bangalore, he said that the increasing energy needs coupled with the IT innovation could give powerful results, if properly utilised.

N H Ravindranath, Professor at the Centre for Sustainable Technologies, Indian Institute of Science, presented statistics pointing towards increasing temperatures, notably in North Karnataka. “Districts like Gulbarga, Bijapur and Yadgir will experience an increase of almost three degrees in temperatures over the next couple of decades.

For instance, Bijapur in winter shows a 3.5 degree increase in temperature. This can be disastrous for wheat or any other crop,” Ravindranath said.

Energy production was responsible for 35.9 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, while the cement and iron industry contributed to 20 per cent of the emissions, he said.

Ravindranath said issues like detailed inventories for different regions and multi-model scenarios needed to be created at the district level for better analysis of information.

The greatest challenge, according to Ravindranath, now lay in exploring how to create a low carbon and climate resilient development path for Karnataka.

Environment Secretary Kanwar Pal said it was tough to bring together low carbon growth and increased energy needs. “We are investing more on thermal power projects, because there is no other choice. All sectors are looking at an increased demand in energy. At a policy level, we need to know whether a low carbon path needs to come in the form of a regulation or in an incentivised form,” he said.

Kaushik Mukherjee, Principal Secretary, Forest, Ecology and Environment, spoke of the difficulties when the government itself made policies that abetted greenhouse gas emissions.

“We say no to transmission and distribution losses, but then we give free power to farmers to use irrigation pumpsets, aiding depletion of water table,” he said.

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