Research team represents NESFAS at 2-week global Climate Change webinar

The NESFAS team attended a climate change webinar from November 18 to December 1, 2020 hosted by the Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi. Senior Associate (Research) Bhogtoram Mawroh and Research Assistant Stefan Lyngdoh whp attended the two-week bworkshop — An Introduction to Climate Change: Science, Politics and Impacts – said, “Most of the climate extremities were brought on as a reaction to the anthropogenic stimulus. Our lifestyle and the demand that this lifestyle puts on the environment has lost track of the holistic approach where priority has been diverted away from the planted that harbors us.”

Some of the components that were covered in the webinar include:

Science

The first section of the workshop focused on the science of climate change, the physical phenomena that lead to the atmospheric and planetary warming. We learnt that the earth’s natural greenhouse effect makes life as we know it possible, since without the greenhouse effect the average surface temperature would be below the freezing point of water. 

But now human activities are responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect and this is caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels which released Carbon Dioxide (Co2) into the atmosphere

Global greenhouse gases have started to rise and continued to accelerate in the past decade caused by excess Co2. The main contributors of the greenhouse gases emission into the atmosphere are electricity generation, transportation and manufacturing and construction. 

In India, the energy sector is the largest emitter followed by agriculture, forest and land use sector and all the industrial processes and waste sector.

Impacts 

The second section of the workshop focused on the impacts of climate change and the term differentiated responsibility. Developed countries like United States of America and the European Union are the largest historical contributors to climate change and they have not shifted away from a carbon- intensive economy.

There has only been a replacement of coal with natural gas in the USA. Right now China is the largest Annual Green House Gas (GHG) emitter and it needs to step up as a newly developed country. We learnt that its indiscriminate expansion of coal power is particularly irresponsible at this time of the climate crisis.

India’s competitive level of responsibility in terms of annual emission is quite limited. Its per capita emission is quite limited. Historically India has contributed only 3% to the cumulative carbon dioxide emissions. We learn that rising emissions and warming are leading to extreme vents and climate disasters at an alarming rate. India’s surface temperature increased by 0.7◦ C between 1901 to 2018 and projected to increase further.

According to the Inter-governmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), the damage and cost of climate change are likely to be significant and increase overtime and according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2020, about 495,000 people have died as a direct result of more than 12,000 weather events globally and losses for 1999 to 2018 amounted to 3,5 trillion US dollars.

Politics

In the history of the United Nations Farmework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), negotiations from 1992 to the present day, there has been various attempts by countries to bring out an equitable yet effective multilateral climate deal.

Kyoto Protocol was imperfect but it was a rational ambitious climate agreement from which USA withdrew since restrictions were not imposed on India and China back then. USA withdrew from Paris agreement 2015 in 2017 because it was not specified how ambitious the agreement should be.

Although presently, Joe Biden has promised to rejoin the Paris agreement

At this point accelerated domestic action is required from countries like Australia, Japan, Russia, Canada and the Middle East Countries who are fossil fuel producers and who have often used USA as a cover for their in-action.

Conference of Parties (COP) 26, which will be held in Glasgow in 2021, will present a chance for countries to present their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)

Solutions

A number of countries have set Net Zero targets by 2050 that will work towards reducing emissions as well as absorbing carbon through natural sinks like forest and technology like carbon capture and storage which presently has not been tested on a large scale.

Renewable energy is promised to generate more jobs than the jobs that it replaces.

Currently there is a move towards countries accelerating mitigation efforts of developed countries and them helping developed countries for global de-carbonization and the most critical target is to stay within 1.5◦C of warming by the complete de-carbonization of electricity by 2050 which will require the retirement of coal plants.

Why is it important to transform the global energy sector to address the climate crisis? Mention three ways in which greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector can be reduced

Climate Crisis

According to the UN, ”Climate is the defining crisis of our time and it is happening even more quickly than we feared”. The issue of climate change has emerged as the biggest developmental challenge today. A warming world has brought a global climate system of unprecedented extreme weather events. The year 2020 has seen climate extremities like the record wildfires raging in America, 2020 being documented as the second warmest year on record, the ocean surface warming up faster, temperatures in the Arctic are increasing every year, the Amazon forest burning (one of the world’s largest carbon sinks) etc.

Energy transformation

Therefore, a fossil fuel alternative energy source is necessary and practical. The fall of renewable energy prices has been one of the most positive developments in the past decades (The cost of renewables has fallen to about 80% in the since 2010). 

To reduce emissions from the energy sector we have to be less dependent on energy production technology that produces high emissions and that are non-renewable.

Solar energy

Solar energy is the conversion of solar rays into electricity by the use of solar panel technology.

Hydro-energy

It is the form of energy that harnesses the power of water in motion. This is done by the construction of dams. It is emission free. It is one of the most reliable renewable energy, for this Environment Impact Assessment is a necessity. 

Tidal energy

Tidal energy is technically a form of stored wind energy since waves are caused by wind that blows over the sea. It can be captured on surface, below surface, near shore, off shore or far offshore.

Algae energy (future idea)

Source of energy rich oils that can genetically modified to produce bio-fuels directly. Alabama was the first to introduce an algae bio-fuel system

Conclusion

Renewable energy is a better and promising future.

References

Desjardins J. 2016.The Alternative energy source of the future, retrieved on November 27, 2020

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/alternative-energy-sources-future/ 

Climate Change Workshop notes

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Damica M Mawlong
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