Friday, December 11, 2009

The Himalayan Chief Ministers’ initiatives on climate change

ITANAGAR, Dec 11:  The 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen will be turning point in the fight to prevent climatic disaster. The conference started on December 7 and will continue till December 18. Ministers and world leaders have assembled at the Danish capital to give the people of all nations a strong answer to its common and global threat of climate change. The world at large is looking up to the leaders to evolve a mutually acceptable and legally enforceable agreement in place of the much discussed but never fully implemented Kyoto Protocol for combating the biggest problem the humanity ever faced.

 According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an aggregate initial reduction by industrialized countries of between minus 25 per cent and 40 per cent over 1990 levels would be required by 2020 in order to stave off the worst effect of climate change, with global emissions falling by at least 50 per cent by 2050. Even under this scenario, there would only be a 50 per cent change of avoiding the most catastrophic consequences, stated the press release issued by the Climate Change Secretariat in Germany while a preparation for the United Nations Conference in Copenhagen was under way globally. Climate change mitigation strategies will involve a paradigm shift in development along with the new technologies. However, the problems posed by the irreversible changing climate should not be seen as new opportunities by the businesses and the industries of the European nations and the USA to sell new technologies to the developing countries at exorbitant costs. Business interests should be relegated to the rear if earth is to be saved from total annihilation.

   Sensing the gravity of the alarming situation, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has not left the matter entirely to the related ministries in Government of India but has instead established a high-power Council on Climate Change in Prime Minister’s office. The Prime Minister has himself sensitized the gravity of climate change to the Chief Ministers through demi-official communications. The Prime Minister is seized with the responsibility of agreeing to such terms and conditions at the COP-15 which does not impair India’s agricultural and water security in the medium term while striving towards a low carbon economy by striving to reduce emission levels to 1990 levels. The Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change has come out with a National Action Plan on Climate Change and it is also closely monitoring eight key national missions on most pressing concerns for the country. These are on solar energy efficiency, sustainable habitat, water, Himalayan ecosystem, green India, agriculture and strategic knowledge for climate change.

This author having spent good 22 years in Arunachal Pradesh has himself seen the way climatic variations has taken place in this Himalayan State. Perennial rivers in the State now have less water while seasonal ones including various channels almost dry up each winter. There are primarily three basins in the State namely the Kameng Basin, the Subansiri Basin and the Dibang Basin. These possess 52, 91 and 14 glaciers respectively. The State Remote Sensing Agency at Itanagar conducted some experiments in the Tawang Basin and had measured extent of snow area wise from 2004-2005 to 2007-2008. It was found that the area of snow was the lowest in 2007-2008. The State Remote Sensing Agency had thus concluded that glaciers in Arunachal Pradesh have also started decreasing if not receding due to global warming.
* To be continued

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