The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s ‘Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report’ released in March has categorically stated that 3.3 billion people’s lives across the world are vulnerable to climate change but as IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee conveyed, “effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits.” However, the report has also raised concerns about “irreversible impacts” on India due to global warming in the coming years, especially if the temperatures breach the 1.5°C limit.
There is a need for urgent action if we want to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all in the country. Scientific Data, a journal published by Nature Research, reveals in its recent report that India has contributed to 0.8 degrees celsius of global warming between 1850 to 2021. This can be attributed to the burning of fossil fuels, conversion of forest lands for commercial and agricultural purposes, and unrelenting greenhouse gas emissions. If we want to steer India away from the path of an irreversible crisis, we must collectively take climate action before it’s too late.
Dry summers, untimely rainfalls, unprecedented cyclones and floods have already adversely affected millions of lives and livelihoods in India. A 2022 report, released jointly by The Centre for Science and Environment, and Down to Earth, states that disasters due to climate change have killed 3,000 people, 70,000 livestock, and destroyed 18 lakh hectares of crop area and 4.1 lakh houses just last year in India. These numbers are likely to rise in the near future. But reforestation and afforestation drives can inexpensively and easily combat climate change and its consequences. A mature tree can absorb up to 22 kilograms of carbon dioxide. Forests are perfect carbon sinks, not to mention, protectors of biodiversity that are needed to keep the environment healthy and thriving. They can also prevent soil erosion and flood threats and help in water table replenishment.
Trees in urban areas soothe heat islands by providing cooling relief and in rural and tribal areas, they repair ecological damage, shelter wildlife and generate livelihoods. With an intention to counter the challenges posed by climate change, tree-plantation drives across the country has become the need of the hour.
( Pradip Shah is Co-Founder and Director of social enterprise Grow-Trees.com)
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organisation.