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Climate change and domestic mitigation efforts

This paper examines how climate change will affect India, and, by looking at hypothetical future emissions scenarios in India, examines India’s vulnerability to climate change. It also critically analyses the initiatives being undertaken to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

It hypothesises that climate change can manifest itself in gradual changes in temperature, precipitation and a rise in sea level, resulting in changes in the frequency, intensity and duration of extreme events. Therefore climate change will impact different regions and sectors differently based on their sensitivity and adaptive capacity, and therefore their vulnerability. For the Indian economy, which mainly depends on natural resources, climate change could represent an additional stress on agriculture, forestry, coastlines, water resources and human health.

This paper is divided into 4 sections:

  • an introduction
  • green house gases: this section examines India’s GHG emissions, and potential alternate scenarios under the IPCC; India’s current future emissions scenario, and the related impacts
  • India’s vulnerability to climate change
  • domestic efforts to mitigate GHG emissions, including research into climate change research, population growth and urban agglomeration, renewable sources of energy, economic reforms, and participation in global negotiations and concerns, and regulations

The authors conclude that economic development will provide a level of insurance against the impact of climate change and increase adaptive capacity. However, there is a long way to go to achieve the desired results. An adequate focus on institutional arrangements to devise suitable incentives and disincentives is needed. Community action is also necessary to have bargaining capacity, build social pressure on the polluter and force the regulatory body to respond to the problem quickly and more responsibly. Environmental issues can be addressed by using cost-effective market based instruments, particularly with respect to monitoring and enforcement, directing CDM projects in energy-intensive industries, and using nuclear power and renewable resources in production operations, etc.

India should be alert, active and assertive in its global participation and ask for risk minimisation in the south, over the muchhyped cost minimisation of GHG mitigation in the north. Responsibility should not be shirked in the name of affecting the economy or the provision of equal per capita rights.