Mongabay series: Climate Connections

Mongabay-India's Climate Connections project aims to raise awareness about the nuances of India’s climate mitigation actions. By informing the decisions and actions of policy makers, businesses, communities, and consumers, this project aims in order to improve the adoption of environmentally sustainable policies and behaviours. India is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and among the world’s biggest markets. These two factors together drive energy consumption and use of fossil fuels. Further, the country is already witnessing a massive impact due to climate change. In such a scenario, the actions planned by the government, industry and communities for climate change mitigation in India are of critical importance for stabilizing the global climate system. In 2015, when India presented its nationally determined contributions it outlined major mitigation goals. By 2030, India had committed to reduce its emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35% percent of the 2005 value; generate 40% percent of its power requirement from renewable sources; and create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover. Over the past few years, these commitments have driven the trajectory of India’s growth. India’s commitments underscore the immediate need to mitigate the impacts of climate change by reducing its emissions and increasing the sequestration of atmospheric carbon. Germanwatch, an independent think tank, released a report early this year, compiling “Global Climate Risk Index” of multiple countries. India is one of the ten most affected countries when it comes to extreme weather events, in terms of fatalities and economic losses in 2019. For instance, 11.8 million people were affected by the intense monsoon of 2019, with economic damage estimated to be USD 10 billion. While adopting measures to increase resilience is important for future extreme weather events, decisions that would stymie climate change through effective mitigation are equally important. The year 2020 brought in its share of climate-related calamities, including floods in many parts of the country. The impacts were amplified by the coronavirus pandemic. The already slowing economy was thrown into a deep slump. These events prompted a slew of economic reforms by the Indian government, mostly focused on action that would help adapt to the new normal, with a thrust on climate adaptation -- starting with the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan launched in May 2020 and more recently, the 2021-22 budget which that focuses on post-COVID recovery. Studies have shown that well-thought out national-level policies can aid climate mitigation while generating employment, especially rural employment, which is an important component of post-pandemic recovery. At such a time when fresh policies are being formulated, heightened media discourse on mitigation is much needed.