“Young people and students are at the centre stage of Climate Action Plans. Today, the discourse on Climate change around the world has raised the consciousness of people towards mitigation.”- Jamshyd N Godrej, Feb 5, 2020.
In the past year, the world has witnessed several extreme weather events ranging from wildfires in California, floods in Kerala, bushfires in Australia, and the alteration of the mighty Amazon rainforest due to forest fires across South America. Speaking at the 9th India-US Track II Dialogue on Climate Change and Energy organised by Ananta Aspen Centre and the Aspen Institute US’ Energy Environment Programme on 5th February 2020, a group of experts gave their insights on the emergency of climate change that is upon us and the role of India and US government and citizens towards its mitigation. There is a need to make cosmic change happen on the ground level so as to save the environment. We have been noticing the emphasis on mitigation with enhanced prospects of solutions like electric mobility, and green buildings. Governments have been formalising the push towards these solutions side by engaging panels to work together. Subnational and private sector actors in the United States and their counterparts in India have formed alliances to deal with climate change specifically in the arena of electric mobility.
Sustainable finance, one of the topics discussed by the dialogue participants during the closed door meeting, would harness the mitigation prospects of the world by ensuring there is enough influx of capital to facilitate the targets recognized in Paris in 2015 and beyond. Sustainable finance would also be needed to invest into building carbon free, sustainable and resilient infrastructure in developing countries. India has established an International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure to create a mechanism to bring together technical expertise of multiple stakeholders from around the world to upgrade capacities in developing countries with their risk context and economic needs. The United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction agency has estimated that approximately USD 94 trillion would be needed for investment in infrastructure in the next 20 years with 60% of that concentrated in developing countries.
Climate change is not just an emergency, it is an existential crisis. Nature has the ability to recuperate on its own provided the absorptive capacity of the environment is well within its limits. The crisis, thus, is for the living species of the planet not the planet itself. Citizens have been proactive in creating a sense of awareness on how consumerism is affecting the climate in a negative manner. There needs to be a three-pronged approach for tackling this crisis: regulating the industries; providing incentives in the form of carbon credits; and then pricing the carbon so as to exercise the sense of being conscious towards our consuming limits.
*This session was held as a part of the India-US Track II Dialogue on Climate Change and Energy.